CSU Introduces Mental Health Awareness Month at CapU

CapU to see a series of events and workshops aimed at addressing student mental health and invisible disabilities throughout October 

Greta Kooy, News Editor
Photo provided by the Capilano Students’ Union

October marks the Capilano Students’ Union’s (CSU) first-ever Mental Health Awareness Month, featuring a series of workshops and events hosted on campus. Events will run until Oct. 23. The first week of events, titled Mental Health in Post-Secondary, began with the Student Voices Forum which took place on Tuesday, Oct. 2. There, students were given the opportunity to participate in a discussion forum where CSU members addressed the challenges and experiences surrounding mental health and how the CSU may better address these issues. “We’re trying to get a better sense of what students are facing when it comes to their experiences dealing with issues around mental health and being in classes in post-secondaries,” said Anna-Elaine Rempel, CSU president and vice president of equity and sustainability. 

After completing a student experiences survey over the summer of 2018, the CSU “…immediately noticed that mental health was the biggest advocacy piece that students wanted to see…” said Rempel, “…that’s part of where this came from, this is something that’s really important to students.” 

The second week of October marked Self-Care Week, which included a series of de-stress activities like the Tea Party which was hosted on Oct. 9. Self-care packages arranged by the CSU were provided to students who attended the event. Art Therapy was also introduced on Oct. 10, as well as a Nintendo Switch Party on Oct. 11. Through more interactive events like these, Rempel said, “We’re trying to get feedback from students throughout the month … trying to reach out to students and get some more survey results … on what exactly they would like to see from us.” 

Returning this year to CapU is Invisible Disabilities Week, now included in Mental Health Awareness Month, running in its third week. This will include Breaking the Silence, an Invisible Disabilities Film Festival set to run on Oct. 18 from 4-5:30 pm in the CSU Members Centre. Although the film festival is the first of its kind at CapU, a similar initiative was run last year by the Queer Collective during Pride Week. “We saw a lot of success from that,” said Rempel, “so we wanted to create an event where we could create an opportunity for students to discuss more openly what their experiences have been with invisible disabilities … and open up the conversation…” 

Also making a return to CapU during Mental Health Awareness Month is the Life of the Party workshop, previously offered as part of the CSU’s Adulting series. This workshop is hosted by Stacey Forrester from Good Night Out and offers students the ability to learn more about drug use and its negative impacts. “…with the opioid crisis still ongoing we know that addiction is an issue that impacts a lot of people in our community and a lot of our students as well,” said Rempel. “We’re offering that as a way for students to learn a little bit more, how they can help, be a bit more aware of what’s going on in their community … we’re trying to normalize use of resources and really work on that de-stigmatization.” 

To conclude Mental Health Awareness Month, the CSU will be hosting a resources fair during Accessing Resources Week on Oct. 23 that will connect both on and off campus resources. This will also take place in the CSU Members Centre. The CSU has reached out to community organizations, as well as the Counselling, Student Affairs and Accessibility departments “…to try and connect students with what resources are most readily available on campus [and] within the community that may be able to better service their needs,” said Rempel. 

A mental health strategy was approved by the Board in the 2017-18 academic year, however Rempel, after taking another look and bringing it forward to the Social Justice Committee, noticed that there were vital, actionable items missing. She has since reassessed the strategy to better reflect the results of the student experiences survey conducted by the CSU over the summer. The revised mental health strategy was approved by the Board on Friday, Oct. 5. “We’re excited … in seeing how that helps us to have a much more strategic direction in what we’re doing with mental health awareness and advocacy,” said Rempel. 

Alongside a revised mental health strategy, the CSU is also working externally with organizations like the Alliance of BC Students and the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations on issues surrounding mental health. “We’re constantly working on this,” said Rempel, “and we’ll be continuing to ramp it up as we go along.” Given the success, Rempel and the CSU plan to make Mental Health Awareness Month an annual event. 

 

For more information on Mental Health Awareness Month, please visit www.csu.bc.ca/mham.

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