November of the fall term is widely considered by students to be a high-stress period, situated right between midterm exams and finals.
As a result, SAIT Residence made November the focus of its mental health push, in both programming and promotion.
Katrina Slemp is a second-year Business student and a Community Assistant who lives in Begin Tower.
Slemp described this time of year as stressful and overwhelming and said residents are often being homesick, or depressed.
“I highly advise a reading week in the fall,” Slemp said.
Slemp has also noticed a marked change in the behaviour of some residents since they moved in, in September.
In recent weeks, Slemp has been seeing people who had kept to themselves hanging out in residences common rooms, studying and socializing, while those who weren’t big into partying are now doing so in what she believes is a bid to ‘relieve stress.’
Like other CA’s, Slemp has put up personalized boards in high traffic areas to raise awareness of mental health and help residents recognize symptoms of stress and depression in themselves and others.
Slemp doesn’t believe the boards alone are enough, but says, “the programs to help teach people about the seriousness of mental illness will help as well.”
Slemp herself ran an event to promote mental health awareness on Nov. 14.
The program revolved around the idea of creating a mental health bracelet. For each condition, Slemp described that could affect residents or their friends. participants selected a corresponding bead.
By the end, the bracelets demonstrated that mental illness is common rather than rare and dispelled similar misconceptions.
Slemp also cited SAIT’s ‘Student Development and Counselling’ Centre as a resource Residence relies upon, as well as certain pro-staff team members with experience in psychology.
Student Development and Counselling offer support in many areas residents often struggle with, both personal and academic, such a stress, depression and career direction.
Esther Malo, a first-year business student and a fellow CA, based her sign boards on an idea she found on Pinterest.
“The thing is here at rez I’ve noticed it’s our job to get students involved but everyone is in their bubbles,” Malo said.
Her boards presented several common negative mindsets such as, ‘I can’t do it,” and flipping them to their positive opposite, ‘I can do it.’
Despite this Malo felt both she and the rest of the team could be doing more to help their residents’ mental health.
The thing is here at rez I’ve noticed it’s our job to get students involved but everyone is in their bubbles. – Esther Malo
“Everyone needs help every now and then,” Malo declared, adding that while residents may not come to the programs designed to help them, that doesn’t mean the team should stop trying to engage them on a daily basis.
Malo believes it’s their job to check in with their residents as ‘everyone needs someone to talk to’ and make sure they’re okay, especially at this time of year.