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.
“I learned that it was okay to get support, and what supports were available,” 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 didn’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.
“This position is more important this year than ever since it is such a challenging year for students.”
Malak Nassar, the SU’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.
“There has been a need for increased mental health support for students, and as a student union, it’s important to make sure that we have a role which facilitates that.”
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 SU’s Vice President Finance and Administration. She spoke about how Ross’s addition to the Student Union would encourage students to seek mental health guidance.
“Having a student as a mental health officer, it feels more comfortable to come out of your bubble.”
Ross said she is grateful for her position.
“I 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.”
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 students’ mental health is taken care of during this new and challenging time.