Let's Talk at Queen's

Groups across campus prepare to take part in mental health conversations for Bell Let’s Talk Day.

Student groups and university offices are working to make the most of Bell Let's Talk Day.

Student groups and university offices are working to make the most of Bell Let's Talk Day.

Mental health and stigma have become some of the most important topics in the country in recent years. Each January, the Queen’s community shows its commitment to the conversation by taking part in Bell Let’s Talk Day. This year will be no different, as preparations are well under way on campus for this year’s national event taking place on Wednesday, Jan. 29.

“It’s always inspiring to see so many students, faculty, and staff from across Queen’s show their support for ending the stigma around mental illness. Even though we have made a lot of progress, there is still work to be done. And it’s encouraging to know that enthusiasm for mental health initiatives on campus is only growing,” says Heather Stuart, Bell Mental Health and Anti-Stigma Chair at Queen’s.

Talking about mental health

Both student groups and university offices are working to make the most of the day. Many of this year’s events aim not only to start a conversation but to raise awareness about what actions people can take.

Throughout Bell Let’s Talk Day, many campus organizations will take turns meeting the Queen’s community at a booth in the Athletics and Recreation Centre. Health Promotion, Peer Health Education, Step Above Stigma, Sexual Health Resource Centre, the Mental Health Awareness Committee, and other groups will be rotating through to share ideas about how people can improve their own mental wellness and support that of others. Booth visitors can start the conversation by sharing what they are doing to help create positive change on Talk Bubbles. They can then post those bubbles in their dorm, apartment, or office so that others know that someone is always there to talk. There will also be a similar booth in Mitchell Hall between 12pm and 2pm.

For those who want to help others but don’t know where to start, Health Promotion is offering two different training sessions. On Jan. 29, they will hold Identifying and Responding to Students in Distress, and on Jan. 30 they will offer SafeTALK Suicide Alertness Training. Both of these sessions are open to all students, faculty, and staff.

Students will be able to get involved where they live as well, as Dons in Victoria Hall and Jean Royce Hall will be running booths focused on changing the conversation around mental health. Students can drop by between 6 pm and 10 pm to get information, enjoy a treat, and make a stress ball. This will build upon the guidance that Residence Life recently gave out to students during the Wellness Night Market.

Leading up to the day, Athletics and Recreation and the Varsity Leadership Council held the Bell Let’s Talk Games. These men’s and women’s volleyball and women’s hockey games on Jan. 25 featured booths with information from Bell Let’s Talk and groups around campus. During the games, the events staff held a trivia contest about mental health resources on campus. The winners received a Bell Let’s Talk prize package.

The Queen’s Community hopes to continue the conversation throughout the year. Several student-led campus groups have committed to using #QueensLetsTalk on social media to unify the conversation. Keep up to date on campus events that continue the discussion on the #QueensLetsTalk Facebook page.

Supports available

Queen’s students have several resources available to them if they need assistance with mental health. Empower Me is a 24/7 phone service that allows students to connect with qualified counselors, consultants, and life coaches for a variety of issues.  The helpline can be reached from anywhere in North America at 1-844-741-6389. Empower Me is made available through a partnership between the Alma Mater Society, the Society of Graduate and Professional Students, and the university. Learn more about Empower Me on the Student Wellness Services website.

Students can also use Good2Talk, a free, confidential helpline providing professional counseling and information to post-secondary students in Ontario. Good2Talk can be reached at 1-866-925-5454.

Student Wellness Services also offers counselling services. For more information, call 613-533-6000 ext. 78264.

Note: This article originally appeared in the Queen's Gazette.