Mental healthy advisory committee seeks diverse members

by Larysa Musick

Students who’ve visited Healthy Minds Healthy College may not have seen it before.

Long banners used to hang from the second and third floor railing overlooking the atrium at The Roblin Centre. Last September, two “Be Undrunk” ads covered the railings, and when they came down, two ads for hair products went up. Now these railings are empty — valuable advertising space unused.

Come September, students may see advertising on campus for Healthy Minds Healthy College, Red River College’s mental health awareness initiative — an initiative that’s going through changes.

RRC is forming a new advisory committee, for Healthy Minds Healthy College, made up of staff, students and faculty representatives. This committee will meet once every two and a half months to review the effectiveness of wellness programming at the college. Applications for the advisory committee opened on March 23. So far, 16 people have applied — two of them are students.

Mental health coordinator Breanna Sawatzy says it’s important students from different ethno-cultural backgrounds, indigenous backgrounds, sexual orientations and genders apply to the advisory group because each individual deals with his or her own stressors.

“I have one brain and one experience,” Sawatzky said. “There are many ways to conceptualize mental health.”

Sawatzky said having student representatives on the Healthy Minds Healthy College advisory committee should help spread awareness to students by word-of-mouth.

Patryk Siedyk, an electronic engineering technology student at RRC, said he and his peers don’t talk about mental health.

“Everybody I know in my program doesn’t access it,” he said about the mental health services at RRC. “Unless you’re actively looking, you won’t find it. It’s not advertised very well. All I see are ads telling people not to drink and drive.”

Siedyk said his friends feel they don’t have time to worry about their mental health. He said his peers are too busy with assignments, exams, and job searching.

Sawatzky said RRC hasn’t made any posters about the committee yet because students are graduating, so the timing is off.

For now, if students want to learn more about the mental health awareness initiatives at RRC, they should subscribe to the Wellness blog available to staff and students.