L-R: Ayomikun Oguntola, Kali Ross and Malak Nassar (Photo Credits: Yakosu Umana)
Kali Ross has lived with anxiety and depression since she was a teenager, but only got the help she needed while at university.
â€œI learned that it was okay to get support, and what supports were available,â€ Ross said.
The 22-year-old Biology major later took on mental health advocacy, as she was inspired by those who helped her. She said she didnâ€™t want students to struggle alone, as she did when she was younger.
This year, she takes on a newly introduced role at the Student Union, as the mental health wellness officer.
The role was introduced at the perfect time, Ross said.
â€œThis position is more important this year than ever since it is such a challenging year for students.â€
Malak Nassar, the SUâ€™s Vice President Academic and External, was part of the SU council which approved of the creation of the position, last school year.
She said the addition of a mental health wellness officer was necessary.
â€œThere has been a need for increased mental health support for students, and as a student union, itâ€™s important to make sure that we have a role which facilitates that.â€
So far, Ross has held an activity-filled mental health campaign week for UPEI students, as well as a Q&A session on social media.
Ayomikun Oguntola is the SUâ€™s Vice President Finance and Administration. She spoke about how Rossâ€™s addition to the Student Union would encourage students to seek mental health guidance.
â€œHaving a student as a mental health officer, it feels more comfortable to come out of your bubble.â€
Ross said she is grateful for her position.
â€œI am happy to be in this role, I am very fortunate to be in this role and I look forward to continuing to support students in any ways I can.â€
She believes counselling is for everyone and is willing to help students who may not have the finances to seek adequate wellness services.
UPEI offers a counselling app to students called Aspiria. The app offers mental health services to UPEI students.
This year, there will be new additions to those services.
Aspira is providing a new app, iConnect You, which will help students reach counsellors via call, SMS or video, 24 hours a day. Aspira also added new services such as a computerized Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which helps users continue their therapy online, and AWARE, a mindfulness program to improve wellbeing.
UPEI has made strides to make sure studentsâ€™ mental health is taken care of during this new and challenging time.