By John Ployer
The Bell Let’s Talk “thought bubble” is a way for people to provide positive messages and encouragement to others (photo credits: Evan Lane)
The UPEI community once again committed to continuing the conversation around mental health and mental wellness this week at the annual Bell Let’s Talk Day campaign.
As part of the national campaign to destigmatize mental health and help those in need, UPEI offered information booths, free food, and entertainment throughout the day Wednesday.
In the Student Centre and the Library volunteers gave out information on mental health resources and asked students to fill out “thought bubbles” with positive messages and ways to deal with mental health problems.
Evan Lane, a student who volunteered at the booth, said that many students eager to share their stories surrounding mental health once they understood what Bell Let’s Talk is about.
“Some were a little unsure and just needed a little encouragement or ideas of what to write down. It was really heart warming to see such engagement from fellow students,” he said.
“It would be nice if we got this kind of engagement towards talking about Mental Health every day as for some people it’s a serious everyday struggle.”
Along with information booths, UPEI also hosted January’s Soup for the Soul at the Chaplaincy Centre, and the proceeds from the Women’s Hockey game Wednesday went to the Canadian Mental Health Association.
UPEI has participated in Bell Let’s Talk since 2016, and the University says it has recognizes the need to discuss and destigmatize mental illness.
In 2018 the Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund granted UPEI $25,000 to help expand UPEI’s Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST). The grant was used to train two Student Affairs employees in how to give ASIST training.
To date, over 100 students, staff and faculty have taken ASIST training.
UPEI Bell Let’s Talk Day organizer Keith Lawlor says that starting the conversation surrounding mental health, and keeping it going after Bell Let’s Talk Day is making a difference.
“Everyone’s mental health matters, and it’s normal to experience challenges. Conversation helps minimize stigma and let individuals know that others in their community deal with similar things, which in turn might allow someone to feel less isolated,” he said.
Lawlor added that since the event began at UPEI he has seen increased awareness surrounding mental health on campus.
UPEI and Bell Let’s talk cited a study from 2019 which suggested that 84% of Canadians now are comfortable speaking with others about mental health, compared to only 42% in 2012.
If anyone needs to access support from UPEI they can contact Student Services by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (902) 566-0488. Additional help can be found at the UPEI Health and Wellness Centre.
In an emergency situation you should call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.