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    Symposium considers mental health in the university context

    Student Riana Colbert hopes a symposium on mental health will provide a safe space for questions and honest discussion.

    The organizers of a symposium on equity and mental health hope it will provide a safe forum for students and faculty to discuss an important issue on campus.

    “I want to see students and faculty members asking questions and learning more about the realities and logistics of dealing with mental illness on campus,” says Riana Colbert (Artsci’14). “I would also like to see participants discussing the equity issues at play when it comes to accessing the appropriate resources and supports.”

    While Ms Colbert supports the Principal’s Commission on Mental Health and has read the report, she worries that not enough students are actively engaged in discussing the issues.

    “If students don’t feel comfortable talking about this, then no institutional changes, accommodations or anything else that might actually be helpful is going to make a difference,” she explains.

    But she says she’s also encountered faculty members who are not always sure about where the boundaries are when it comes to helping students . “I’ve heard about professors wondering whether they are violating a student’s privacy rights if they recognize and want to talk about mental illness.”

    Heather Stuart, Bell Canada Mental Health and Anti-Stigma Research Chair, will participate in the symposium. She will be joined by Jacalyn Duffin, Hannah Research Chair in the History of Medicine, and Michael Condra, Director, Health, Counselling and Disability Services.

    “I think students with mental health issues don’t always realize what sorts of entitlements they have access to, and how they can be accommodated,” says Dr. Stuart . “If they are working at a disadvantage because of a mental illness, but are afraid to say something, their educational outcomes can be affected.”

    The organizers are hoping to create a space at the symposium where people can come with all their thoughts and bounce them off the experts, as well as each other,

    The Symposium on Equity and Mental Health in the University Context takes place on Friday, February 8, 2013 at 2 pm in Macdonald Hall, Room 002.

    More information about the event is available here.