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Get Zen for mental health

Puzzles, colouring books and games are spread across two tables of the second floor in the AC Hub. Two men approach and ask some questions about what’s going on. They are invited to pour themselves a tea, pull up a chair and take some time to relax.

In another part of the room, bright afternoon sun is shining through the windows as Bianca Saikaley, health promotion educator for Health Services, and Melissa Marchand, events assistant at AC Hub, facilitate the Get Zen event on Jan. 30.

Organized in conjunction with Mental Health Awareness Week at the college, which was also planned to coincide with Bell Let’s Talk on Jan. 31, the event is held each semester with the help of Health Services, allowing them to promote the various services they provide.

Those include the Purple Couch, on-campus counsellors and any up-coming information sessions like the “safeTALK: Suicide Alertness for Everyone” on Thursday, Feb. 15.

“Our goal for this week is to break down mental health stigma,” Saikaley said in an email, “and making sure students are aware of the different mental health resources on and off campus that are available to support them during their college experience.”

Garth McKinley, 34, a third-year student with the computer systems technology program, and Arjun Sivakumar, 21, a third-year student with the computer engineering program, accepted the invitation to grab a chair and relax. They began a game of chess with McKinley teaching Sivakumar how to play.

“It was a nice excuse to take a break.” said McKinley.

McKinley thought it was a good idea for the college to do more to support mental health issues.

Get Zen, however, is just one piece of the mental health puzzle. The awareness is also about promoting self-care and encouraging students to look after themselves and build down time into their busy schedules of stressful classes, assignment deadlines and often crazy social lives.

Many students neglect to find time for themselves and Get Zen reminds them of this important part of their mental health, encouraging them to pick up a pencil crayon and spend some time colouring a picture, or play a quiet game of chess with a friend.

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