Let’s talk … and keep talking

A psychologist conducting an online therapy session with his patient.

Also on Jan. 28, the MRU community can visit the newly launched MRU Live Well Facebook account to take part in a digital mental health fair.


Mental health is essential to well-being and academic success and is a priority throughout the University. A variety of services, programs and initiatives are in place to provide the campus community with the resources they need, and all are underpinned with the values of compassion and understanding.

“In supporting the mental health and well-being of our campus members, it is important to acknowledge the impact of stigma and work to break down barriers to individuals accessing supports and services,” says Rachelle McGrath, director of Wellness Services at Mount Royal.

Mount Royal University is proud to participate in #BellLetsTalk on Jan. 28. Join the national Bell Let’s Talk campaign online to listen to and participate in open and honest conversations around mental health. The campaign’s promotional video signifies how important it is for everyone to play a supporting role.

Also on Jan. 28, the MRU community can visit the newly launched MRU Live Well Facebook account to take part in a digital mental health fair. The MRU Live Well Twitter and Instagram pages will be active as well, supported through the campus social media accounts at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. @MRULiveWell and @mrulife will share how to access the resources and supports available on campus and hold discussions about mental health and mental illness. A virtual photo booth has been set up for sharing pictures with #BellLet’sTalk, and pics can also be sent to livewell@mtroyal.ca for an eventual collage encompassing the thoughts, emotions and advice presented.

 

 

“In addition to having more conversations about mental health, we also need to demonstrate our commitment to creating an environment that contributes to the health and well-being of our campus members,” McGrath says.

It is for this reason that MRU is developing a Suicide Prevention Strategic Framework for the institution. Building upon work already taking place, the framework will include a focus on suicide prevention, intervention and postvention, and will include recommendations for further developments.

“Suicide prevention is such an important area and I am so thankful for the support and engagement from our campus community as we work to develop the guiding framework. I think this work is going to have a huge positive impact,” McGrath says, who is chairing the steering committee.

Available resources in support of mental health

Wellness Services provides comprehensive services and programs to support campus members’ physical, mental and sexual health. There are a number of one-on-one services available with a variety of health-care practitioners to support students through counselling, groups, workshops, peer programs, online tools and outreach initiatives that are continually evolving to meet current campus needs. Some services are being offered remotely at this time. For the latest information, see mru.ca/wellness.

mru.ca/mentalhealth

MRU’s mental health website is a central online location where campus members can find information about on and off-campus resources and supports, including:

The Healthy Campus Team within Wellness Services is one area that drives Bell Let’s Talk Day on campus and other outreach initiatives. Donna George, the Healthy Campus Team lead, focuses with the help of her team on health promotion, education and outreach and offers a plethora of programming that helps to support students as well as staff and faculty members who are passionate about student mental health.

George and her colleagues work with campus community members to help promote well-being from the individual to the environmental level. They do this through an evidence-based population health promotion approach that includes identifying health issues and strategic engagement in programming, education, advocacy, capacity building and policy initiatives.

“I am so proud to work with such dedicated professionals who care so deeply and strive to create and offer information and programming that is responsive to the changing needs of our campus community,” George says.

For George, it’s most impactful when students offer their thoughts.

A Peer to Peer Mental Health Educator provided the following feedback from an event they participated in: “During our self-care event it was really beneficial to practise this behaviour.  I was able to talk to students about how self care is a really good way of maintaining mental health and a beneficial way to help mental illness. I was able to demonstrate this by explaining what I do for self care and how it helps maintain a healthy mental state especially during school. This event gave me the opportunity to show that self care should happen on a daily basis.”

There are many ways to support personal mental health. The first step in caring for your mental health is understanding what mental health means. A great resource for this is the Mental Health Blackboard module.

Mental Health Blackboard

This free module helps orient users to the basics around student mental health, the difference between mental health and mental illness, ways to stay healthy, help others and get involved, as well as resources on campus and online. Register for the module and it will show up as a tab on Blackboard to explore whenever is convenient.

“I like to think of the Mental Health Blackboard as a one-stop shop for all your mental well-being related needs. It’s nice to be able to explore all the resources and information our campus has to offer, especially if you’re nervous about reaching out. It helps build confidence,” shares Kourtnee Burnett, an MRU student and social media lead for Wellness Services.

Get active and feel better

Another priority to have when it comes to mental health is physical wellness. Being active has a huge impact on mental well-being. With COVID-19 restrictions, it has been hard for people to access exercise facilities, but MRU Cougars Athletics and Recreation have a fun solution for students needing an exercise routine that can be done in the comfort of one’s home.

The Keep Moving virtual fitness challenge is a fantastic resource. Students and employees will have free access to 29 on-demand virtual fitness videos from campus recreation providers across Canada.

“I know it’s hard to get into a routine when you’re stuck in your house all day in front of a screen, so this program really helps keep you on track and gets you motivated,” Burnett says.

Each week participants are also encouraged to join a live 20-minute movement break demonstrated by fellow students, as well as a weekly roundtable discussion with a fitness supervisor and a panel of student peers. A leaderboard has been set up for participants to record their active minutes and enter to win prizes each week.

Provincial leadership

MRU continues to be a leader in post-secondary student mental health.Through grant funding from the Ministry of Advanced Education, MRU’s Wellness Services team recently created a provincial mental health promising practices toolkit. Tools for Success: Models of Exemplary Student Mental Health Initiatives at Alberta Post-Secondary Institutions highlights 11 case studies of exemplary mental health initiatives from various post-secondary institutions in Alberta.

Discover everything Wellness Services has to offer.

Jan. 25, 2021 ― Jonathan Anderson

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