Mental Health Expo showcases services for students

SAIT’s Student Association (SAITSA) is working closely with SAIT to combat the stigma of mental health on campus by providing students with access to a multitude of resources and support.

On Oct. 12, SAITSA hosted the Mental Health Awareness Expo in the Stan Grad Atrium.

The expo showcased over 10 different mental health services and resources on and off campus.

Students were welcomed by SAITSA’s ‘Mental What? wellness and health awareness team.

The team enticed passers-by to participate in the event by responding to the needs and questions of students at the SAITSA booth.

Students were greeted by volunteers and were told about the new Integrated Mental Health and Wellness app. The I.M. WELL app is a free download.

SAITSA also provided students with a variety of mental health materials, a couch on which to take a break, or snap a photo on, crafts, and free candy, tea and headphones.

“Now more than ever SAIT and the SAIT Student Association are close partners and are working hard to foster a campus culture of open understanding around mental health,” declared Dr. David Ross, SAIT president and CEO.

SAITSA compliments what SAIT is already doing with Student Development and Counselling Services, and the Lamb Learner Success Centre by providing students with peer-to-peer support through the Peer Support Centre.

Located in room NJ105 of the Senator Burns Building, the Peer Support Centre is a students-only space that is a safe environment for self-exploration, relaxation and a place to connect with fellow students.

“I think students will realize that this is a huge community and that everybody’s here for each other,” said Shona White, assistant manager, Marketing and Communications, SAITSA.

“With our executive council and having a position like VP Student Life, we try and make sure students are supported outside of the classroom,” explained White.

Events like the Mental Health Awareness Expo definitely draw attention to what resources SAITSA and SAIT have available.

Vendors at the event included the Calgary Mental Health Association, Woods Homes, SAIT Student Development and Counselling, International Centre, SAIT Health Services, The Interfaith Centre, SAIT Athletics and Recreation (Make Some Noise for Mental Health), and a booth for Funding Advising, Academic Coaching and Accessibility Services.

Connor Goodfellow, VP Student Life, mentioned the importance of talking about mental health, especially with students, “because we go through a lot of stuff that other people don’t.

“There’s never a break from assignments, especially with a lot of two-year courses,” he said.

“It is super condensed, you’re just doing the courses and they are trying to get you out in industry as fast as possible,” said Goodfellow.

“Definitely it’s important because the first step to either identifying mental health, or helping to manage mental health, is to start talking about it,” said SAITSA president Alex Dimopoulos.

Dimopoulos introduced Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt, who revealed details of the announcement made in June to distribute $25.8 million over three years to improve mental health resources for post-secondary students in Alberta.

Take a Seat:Making sure to stop at every booth, Marlin Schmidt, Alberta Minister of Advanced Education and SAITSA President, Alex Dimopoulos made their way around the expo in the atrium on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017. They started with SAITSA’s booth and couch. (Photo by Christina Freudenthaler/The Press)

“For SAIT, that means $475,00 each year for the next three years to support mental health initiatives and the unique needs of you,” said Schmidt.

I think students will realize that this is a huge community and that everybody’s here for each other. – Shona White

No specifics were mentioned in either Dr. Ross, or Schmidt with respect to how the funds will be spent at SAIT over the next three years.

“The right mental health supports can be a lifeboat in choppy waters,” said Schmidt.

“SAIT is already doing a great job of making sure that every single student knows where to find that lifeboat. This new funding will help make the lifeboats easier to get into.”

About Christina Freudenthaler 4 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Christina Freudenthaler worked as a reporter for The Press during the 2017-18 academic year.