“Not everybody knows [about the resources available to students],” said Thao Nguyen, SAIT student association’s (SAITSA) vice-president of student life.
SAIT currently has several support networks for students, the two most prominent being the Student Support Centre (located in the J wing of the Senator Burns Building) and Student Development and Counselling (located on the second floor of the Stan Grad Building).
SAITSA regularly encourages students to participate in de-stressing activities, which it provides every month, along with promoting the Student Support Network.
“It’s a great way for students to come and take a break, it lets them enjoy some fun activities,” Nguyen said.
When a student is feeling the pressure or stress of their academic or even personal life, they should put their well being first, she said.
“They need to be aware of their own mental health,” Nguyen said.
According to Nguyen, there are four aspects of health every student should be aware of: mental, physical, spiritual and emotional.
And the stress of acedemic learning can throw any of these off.
“Academic can be very stressful,” said Nguyen, but students shouldn’t deal with this stress alone.
SAITSA-planned activities, such as Wellness Wednesday and puppy rooms, are fun tactics used to help students de-stress and promote healthy mental being.
The Student Support Centre, started three years ago, is the largest network on campus.
The support centre’s mission statement is described as a “non-academic space designed for students to gather, socialize and participate in initiatives that promote mental health and personal well being.”
“We address mental health in a fun way,” said Israel Maya, the assistant supervisor of the support centre.
The centre offers daily activities inside NJ105 of the Senator Burns Building.
Movie nights, craft days, puppy room and video game days, and free breakfast are all examples of some of the events.
Aside from fun activities, the Student Support Centre works closely with Student Development and Counselling (SDC).
Staff at the centre receive training from and work in tandem with the SDC.
The student centre can also send referrals on the student’s behalf to the SDC.
Maya’s advice to students who feel stressed and overwhelmed is to understand what they need and then look for it.
“Always prioritize your well-being,” Maya said.
Whether it is someone impartial to speak to like a counselor, or just a space to escape reality for a little while, it is always in the best interest to put themselves first.
On a busy day, the centre can have as many as 60 students inside the small space, with about 15-20 students on a slower day.
According to Maya, he believes that approximately 50 per cent of the student body knows about the support centre but not as many use the resource.
Students seeking counselling can book an appointment with the SDC, which is located in MA205 of the Stan Grad Building, either in person or over the phone.
Counseling services are free and confidential to SAIT students.
When it comes to the stress and pressure of academic life, “it’s always OK to be selfish,” Maya said.