How RRC is prioritizing mental health initiatives during weather changes
By Mackayla Essery
The change in weather can mean a change in mood for many students at Red River College. RRC is encouraging students who feel the effects of Winnipeg winters to use its resources.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is depression that hits during seasonal changes, due to the lack of natural light available throughout the day. Common symptoms of SAD include exhaustion, hopelessness and irritability, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association.
SAD is best treated by the use of light therapy lamps, which mimic natural light to release serotonin – a hormone that contributes to happiness – according to an article for Healthline Media.
Lynn Gibson, library coordinator at the Exchange District Campus said the lamps have been popular among students since the college got them last winter.
“They’re really beneficial,” said Gibson. “I’m really glad we have them for students. [The lamps] help them feel less burdened.”
One light therapy lamp is available in each library campus, along with portable lamps that students can rent out if they wish for more privacy.
Gibson says she sees students using the lamps the most during the January and February months after winter has been around for a while. Symptoms commonly start to hit people in late October to early November.
Ron Sigurdson, a counsellor at the Notre Dame Campus, says most people don’t realize that they may be experiencing SAD.
“I imagine it’s something they would dismiss as something that’s kind of a part of the normal rhythm of being a student,” he said.
Fifteen per cent of Canadians will experience a mild form of SAD in their lifetime and it’s common for the symptoms to recur around the same time of year, according to the CMHA.
Resources addressing mental health are available on both campuses, such as counselling services and Thrive Week – a weeklong initiative at the start of November to promote mental health awareness. The Red River College Students’ Association covers 80 per cent of psychologist fees through the student medical plan.
Melissa Ghidoni, vice-president external of the RRCSA said it’s important to realize when your mental health is suffering and when to reach out for help.
“You think it’s just a normal thing, but it could be more of a psychological change,” Ghidoni said. “As a post-secondary student, what do you do? Do you let it get the best of you, or do you cope?”
If you think you’re feeling the effects of SAD, try the light therapy lamps available on both campuses. or head to rrc.ca/wellness/supports for resources to address your mental health concerns.