Breaking Down the Mental Illness Stigma

The Living Well Lancers Team will be hosting programs and activities throughout #BellLetsTalk week, from January 29th to February 2nd. Students are encouraged to participate in activities to have fun and combat the stigma surrounding mental illness.

“Wait,” you might ask. “What the heck is Living Well Lancers? That sounds made up…”

Yeah, it’s new. It’s part of the university’s mental health strategy, which was established in response to growing concerns about mental illness on campus. Back in September 2017, the U reached out to students in the form of the Provost’s Question of the Month asking what we’d like to see in a mental health strategy. In response to those suggestions, they’ve made a few changes to how mental health is handled. That’s right, folks; administration actually listened to suggestions!

Part of this strategy involved the creation of the Mental Health and Wellness Coordinator, a position currently filled by Ashley Vodarek. Vodarek is a survivor of mental illness who took to public speaking and raising awareness after receiving treatment. Before coming to the university, she had a gig in public relations with the Windsor-Essex branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association. Her current responsibilities are to develop and implement mental health programs for students.

You can consider this week as a little sampler of more to come, as Vodarek has more things planned to keep the conversation going throughout the year. Keep an eye out for more wellness messages, training, and support from the Mental Health and Wellness Coordinator, currently communicating in part through the University of Windsor Student Experience Facebook page @uWinStudentExp.

Can I Help?

For those of you wanting to help fight the stigma, Vodarek is accepting volunteers who want to join the Living Well Lancers Team. You can contact her by email at Ashley.vodarek@uwindsor.ca. Alternately, if you want to help fight the stigma but can’t join the Living Well Lancers Team, fear not! You can help raise money for mental health programs on Wednesday, January 31st, by tweeting with #BellLetsTalk, using the Bell Let’s Talk frame on Facebook, viewing the Bell Let’s Talk Day video, and using the Bell Let’s Talk Snapchat filter.

For each of the previously described actions, Bell will donate 5 cents to a mental health program. And if that isn’t incentive enough, consider this: the next time an old person tells you that social media is destroying society, you can throw this in their face. Also be sure to use the hashtags #LivingWellLancers and #OneTeamForMentalHealth.

There will also be Living Well Lancers Team members going around campus with speech bubbles for those of you who want to share messages about mental health. Not comfortable doing that? Under witness protection and can’t be shown on social media? No worries! You can also submit messages to Vodarek by email, and then have said messages shared throughout communications confidentially and anonymously.

So what is actually going on?

Here are some highlights of the coming week:

Monday: already passed because I didn’t write this article early enough. Looks like this “news” just became “olds.”

Tuesday: Wellness Games in the CAW Commons (11am-3pm).

Wednesday: Bell Let’s Talk Event & Campus Resources in the CAW Commons (10am-4pm), Peer Support Centre: Therapeutic Play in the Engineering Lobby (5-7: 20 pm), Student Residence Wellness outside the Croc (7-9pm).

Thursday: Movie Night Showing “Inside Out” in the CAW Commons, brought to you by the Peer Support Centre (7-9pm).

Friday: Living Well Lancers: Relaxation Lounge in room 239 of the CAW (10am-1pm).

If you’re in need of support or treatment for mental illness, please reach out to any of the services associated with the university:

Peer Support Centre: Room 291 of the CAW

Student Counseling Centre: Room 293 of the CAW

Student Health Services: Room 242 of the CAW

Good2Talk: 1-866-925-5454

 

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