Earlier this month I stopped by the Tait McKenzie Centre to film a short video with our York Lions men’s basketball team as part of the Bell Let’s Talk #OneTeamForMentalHealth initiative, which focuses on student-athlete mental health.
Thanks to initiatives like this one, the month of January has become an important catalyst for action on mental health and for ending the stigma surrounding mental illness. Universities have emerged as leaders in this conversation not only by necessity, given the large number of young people who are affected by mental health issues and the unique pressures that often come with the pursuit of an academic career, but also thanks to the important research and community engagement efforts being undertaken by university communities.
Recent statistics on the realities of student mental health are alarming, and more needs to be done to ensure our students have the supports they need to succeed. The good news is that our heightened awareness of the issue sheds light on what steps can be taken to improve existing mental health supports for all students, faculty and staff on university campuses.
As part of this new strategy, we are offering mental health training to all community members. Students, staff and faculty can enroll in safeTALK, a three-hour session that prepares participants to identify individuals who may need help and connect them with the appropriate support.
As Canada marks #BellLetsTalk Day on January 25, we also mark York’s Let’s Talk Day, an important opportunity to continue the conversation within our own community so that we can support those closest to us who may be struggling. We must work together to end the stigma surrounding mental illness by promoting awareness and understanding, and this begins by recognizing that we all have a role to play in supporting mental health and wellness in our communities.