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Mental Health at Loyalist

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By Courtenay Modeste [2] BELLEVILLE – One in five students is believed to be suffering from a mental-health problem, but only six per cent of these students are willing to seek help, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association. [3]

The Mind and Wellness team at Loyalist College is working hard to make students feel comfortable about coming in to talk if they are struggling with school, their feelings, or anything else.

Sarah Michelle Ogden, a mind and wellness practitioner at Loyalist, said it is important not only for students but for everyone to strive for a balance in physical, spiritual, emotional and social health. If a student seems to be struggling with depression or a mental-health issue, Ogden said, the protocol is to reach out to the student confidentially, then assess the seriousness of the situation and offer the appropriate support. A partnership between Loyalist and the Crisis Intervention Centre (CIC) at the Belleville Hospital means that the hospital will offer its services when students are considering self-harm or even suicide.

Justin Bulman is a residence advisor. He says that the school put a lot of effort into training RA’s to recognizing students who are struggling. “The training that the school provides allows us to be a good resource for students to out reach to us and help them find the help they need. It’s really straining to put someone in a new environment, especially something like post-secondary school and even the fact of students moving away from home for the first time it’s a big change for everybody. A lot of stress and mental change the first few months of school, so its good that the RA’s have a lot of various training.”

As an RA Bulman and his team have to keep a calm and collected attitude. Students need to feel that they’re approachable.

Bulman and the RA team refer students to other programs and resources outside of school but the school resources are where they refer to first.

“Coming to school and leaving home for he first time is pretty strenuous on the mental health so its important that students are aware of the resources available and the people that are there to help them and not make them feel bad about themselves or any problems that they are facing. So its very important that people research out to us and seek the help that is out there.”

Events like Defeat Depression, Bell Let’s Talk [4], Do You Mind?, as well as mental health awareness workshops, and suicide awareness workshops happen around the school year round. Ogden says they are not only looking for students to attend events but to be involved in the planning and facilitation of all events.

“Just set up an appointment and ask us what we can do for you! We’re here to support you and ensure you’re successful during your time at Loyalist.” Sarah Ogden.