More awareness needed for college’s mental health supports

By: Rachel Ferstl

Red River College Polytechnic offers students many mental health supports and programs, but student attendance in these programs and awareness of some of these supports could improve.

RRC Polytech offers a program called “Yoga with Holly,” where students can attend a virtual, half-hour yoga session with Holly Pluchinski, a yoga instructor from Kayfabe Yoga. The sessions run every Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. and Friday at 12:00 p.m.

Attendance is down since last year and averages about 15 participants each session, according to RRC Polytech’s mental health coordinator, Breanna Sawatzky.

Sawatzky said she would like to see more students take part in the online program.

“I hope they would feel better afterwards in both their body and their mind,” she said.

Psychologists have thoroughly researched the benefits of yoga on mental health. The exercise is known to reduce stress, ease anxiety, improve sleep, enhance social life, and promote other healthy habits, according to WebMD.

“Yoga specifically can be an outlet for mental health because it tries to bring us back into our bodies,” said Pluchinski.

A student stretches as she attends a “Yoga with Holly” session available through Red River College Polytechnic./RACHEL FERSTL

She explained students can have difficulty balancing their studies with their physical and mental well-being. 

“Our bodies give us messages all the time,” said Pluchinski. “We ignore cues and ignore cues, and then we’re in a world of problems.”

Cora Vivaraies, a Justice and Public Safety student at RRC Polytech, attends the sessions regularly. She said they give her relief from stress.

“With being a mom during the day and then going to school at night, it gives me a spot to go, ‘Okay stop being everything else, focus on yourself,’” said Vivaraies.

But many students are missing out on these benefits because of a lack of awareness.

Bailey Pickard, a Graphic Design student, said she was not aware of any yoga sessions, and neither are her friends.

“More awareness of it would definitely help,” said Pickard. “I know we get student news emails, but I don’t know anyone who actually reads those. I don’t.”

Holly Pluchinski, owner of Kayfabe Yoga, stretches outside on a sunny day./HOLLY PLUCHINSKI

Sawatzky recommends that students subscribe to the RRC Polytech Healthy Minds, Healthy College blog so they can stay informed about the College’s mental health supports and services.

“Something might pop up that is really good for you or that you’re really drawn to,” said Sawatzky. Showing up and taking that risk might pay off, she said.

Students can find more information about Yoga with Holly on RRC Polytech’s Fitness Classes webpage. They also can subscribe to the RRC Polytech Healthy Minds, Healthy College blog by visiting the college’s website.