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Wellness for the winter and the year ahead

Students, staff, and faculty can find ways to focus on their mental health with upcoming campus events and year-round resources for the Queen’s community.

Taking care of mental health is necessary all year, but it can be especially important during the short, cold days of winter. That’s why Queen’s is promoting resources and holding events this week and throughout the term to help students, faculty, and staff focus on their mental wellbeing and find the supports they need.

“There is a growing awareness of how important mental health is to all aspects of our lives,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane. “Queen’s is committed to providing for the health and wellbeing of all members of our community, and we support anyone who would like to take part in upcoming events focused on mental health or seek out resources to help improve their wellness. We understand there is still work to be done to embed wellbeing into our culture, and we are dedicated to improving and creating more options to support the mental health of every member of our community.”

Thrive 365 for faculty and staff

For 2023, Human Resources is launching Thrive 365, a year-round focus on supporting wellness throughout the Queen’s community. Thrive 365 will kick off on Jan. 25 with two events focused on mental health. Starting a Conversation about Mental Health is an online session open to all faculty and staff that aims to teach participants how to take steps to improve their mental health and the mental health of those around them. Experience Queen’s: Creativity for Mental Health is an in-person session taught by Interfaith Chaplain Erin Burns, who will lead participants through guided creative arts meditation. Thrive 365 continues Feb. 5 with a free drop-in skating session from 10 a.m. to noon at the Memorial Centre for Queen’s employees and their families. Ongoing events and activities will be available throughout the year. Employees are encouraged to visit the HR Intranet to learn more and register for events.

Other support resources for the Queen’s community and their family members can be found at any time through the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP).

Student Wellness Services (SWS) continues to offer education and training sessions for faculty, staff and students, focusing on mental health. Upcoming sessions include: Identifying and Responding to Students in Distress on Jan 25, SafeTALK on Feb 2, Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training on Feb 22, and Mental Health First Aid on Feb 27.

Events and resources for students

Students can find community and connect with mental health supports through Winter Wellness events organized across Student Affairs. Programs and events encouraging students to “Move for Mental Health” include Health Promotion’s Recreational Run Club’s Mental Health Resource Run on Jan 27, Peer Wellness Coaching, Prescription Exercise at Queen’s, as well as ongoing drop-in recreation programs, and Group Fitness classes at the Athletics and Recreation Centre.

“Being active and breaking up my sedentary time helps me to stay focused and calm during stressful academic periods,” says Peer Wellness Coach Tristan Montag. “Taking short breaks to walk around the library or campus reduces my back pain from sitting and gives my eyes a much-needed break from staring at my computer. Students are invited to join the mental health walk/run to experience these benefits for themselves.”

The Winter Wellness Night Market invites students living in residence to meet with representatives from units across Student Affairs who will be set up at market-like booths in Ban Righ Hall on January 25 at 6 pm. Students there can take part in activities and giveaways aimed at supporting mental health, physical health, academic success, and community building.

Oscar, the therapy dog from St. John’s Ambulance, will continue to visit campus Thursdays, 12:00 -1:00 p.m. starting in Mitchell Hall throughout the winter term. SWS has expanded mental health services and weekly student wellness groups, and students can also access support at the AMS Peer Support Centre.

“Queen’s continues to expand the resources available to support student mental health, and we aim to have a wide range of programs to suit different levels of need,” says Kate Humphrys, Health Promotion Coordinator, Student Wellness Services. “So whether you need a space to talk with peers facing similar challenges, motivation to get more active, opportunities to build community, or just a chance to pet a friendly dog, there’s something to help you.”

24/7 crisis support and counselling is available to undergraduate and MBA students through the Console app; Graduate students can access 24/7 crisis support and counselling through Empower Me.  Good2Talk is another 24/7 phone service available to all postsecondary students in Ontario.

Athletics & Recreation and Bell Let’s Talk Day

Bell Let’s Talk Day takes place this year on Wednesday, Jan. 25. Queen’s Athletics & Recreation is recognizing the day to help bring greater awareness to the importance of mental health. Over the Jan 21-22 weekend, the men’s and women’s basketball teams both held Bell Let’s Talk-themed games where student athletes shared resources related to mental health with those in attendance. On Bell Let’s Talk Day, students and staff will be distributing Let’s Talk toques at the Athletics and Recreation Centre and around campus. They will also be sharing material that can help connect people with mental health resources.

On Bell Let’s Talk Day, the Queen’s Gazette will also be sharing a Q&A with Heather Stuart, Bell Canada Chair in Mental Health and Anti-Stigma Research. Dr. Stuart will give an update about her research and provide insight into the current state of mental health in Canada.

Champions for Mental Health

Students whose mental health has been supported by an instructor or staff member have the opportunity to celebrate them as a Champions for Mental Health.  This is the program’s second year, and recognizes individuals who create supportive environments where student mental health is valued. All students are invited to submit nominations until April 15. Recipients will be announced in May. Learn more, see a list of previous recipients, and find out how to submit a nomination on the Campus Wellness Project website.

New Stories of Hope initiative

Students are also invited to share their own stories of resilience and hope, to help reduce mental health stigma and promote community and a sense of belonging on campus. Stories of Hope is a student-led initiative that will feature examples of hope, resilience and strength in the face of adversity in whatever format the student chooses, with support provided all along the way.