#LetsTalkUTM: Join the campus conversation about mental health

Poster for #LetsTalkUTM mental health fair
Monday, January 29, 2018 - 2:41pm
Blake Eligh

UTM will hold its first-ever mental health fair this week with a day-long event for students, staff and faculty to learn more about mental health resources and supports on campus and in the community. #LetsTalkUTM takes place on Wednesday, Jan. 31 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the CCT Atrium. Organized by the Peer Health Ambassadors with UTM’s Health & Counselling Centre, the event features a photo exhibit, resources fair, a social media campaign and free self-care packages for participants.

“We want to raise awareness and make a welcoming space that students can feel encouraged to visit,” says Ravi Gabble, health education coordinator with the Health & Counselling Centre. “This event presents the people behind the services to help remove perceived barriers around accessing support.”

UTM’s Health & Counselling Centre staff will be on hand to demystify counselling and answer common questions about how to make an appointment, what happens at a counselling appointment and some of the topics that might be talked about. Other support services will also be on hand to discuss options that can help to ease common stressors. “Mental health is related so many different things, such as finances, academics or physical health,” Gabble says. “It’s important to take a holistic approach."

Image of a woman with text reading "Creating a positive feedback loop is where I set my mental health goal."The “Stories of Resiliency” photo exhibit will be on display throughout the day, and will be featured on the Health & Counselling Centre Instagram account. The exhibit showcases personal stories submitted by students, staff and faculty who describe mental health challenges they have faced, and the strategies and resources they turned to for help. “These stories are meant to inspire, but also to let people know that they’re not alone,” Gabble says. “Everybody goes through mental health challenges. It’s okay to talk about them.”

Wali ShahThe UTM event runs concurrently with #BellLetsTalk, the national social media campaign by Bell Canada. Bell’s annual event features personal stories from people impacted by mental illness, including comedian Howie Mandel, Olympic athlete Clara Hughes and UTM’s own Wali Shah. The sociology student, poet and motivational speaker shares his own experiences with anxiety and depression, and how he found help on his journey. The UTM event will feature a Twitter wall displaying tweets tagged with the Bell and UTM hashtags. Bell Canada donates funding towards mental health initiatives for every tweet using the hashtag #BellLetsTalk posted on the day of the event.

After the mental health fair, UTM outreach will continue with a campus-wide poster campaign, on social media. “It’s not just one day of the year--mental health is an everyday thing,” Gabble says.

“Mental health is something that impacts everyone. It’s important to speak openly about the challenges we sometimes encounter, and speak openly about seeking help,” Gabble says. “We want to provide a forum where people can explore those services. You’re not alone. It’s okay to ask for help. There are people here at UTM who can help you.”