Serena Ryder, a Juno-Award winning artist, made a virtual visit to Algonquin College on Jan. 28 to speak about her journey to mental wellness, while giving a live exclusive performance of her new single.
Approximately 300 students from Algonquin, Collège La Cité and St. Clair College, safely from their homes, took part in the event held on Bell Let’s Talk Day.
Ryder, born in Toronto, is a singer-songwriter and mental health and wellness advocate. She spent the afternoon, through Zoom, sharing her journey of mental wellness. Ryder performed an acoustic version of her song “What I Wouldn’t Do” and an exclusive performance of her new single called “Better Now.”
Speaking to an engaged audience, Ryder openly shared her journey. She spoke about the feelings of hopelessness while experiencing depression and anxiety. “I used to have panic attacks and I just remember the feeling of ‘I’m by myself in this,'” she said.
Ryder also talked about how music has helped her along her way to mental wellness and the changes she has made to better herself.
“There’s a lot of different things I’ve been able to do to get to the point where I’m at now,” she said. “Like, I get really good sleep, I eat really well, I no longer drink at all. Alcohol is not really an option for me.”
Allison Barnes, the Students’ Association events programmer has worked with Ryder in the past.
“She is a great speaker and can add her music behind it which I find helps with the engagement of the event,” said Barnes. “She has been someone I have looked up to, so I wanted others to experience what she has to offer.”
Meg Fraser, a staff member at the college working in the AC Hub as a communications and web officer for student support services, spent the day as a moderator for the event and interviewed Ryder. For Fraser, this event was a “great experience.”
“I love facilitating events in general,” she says. “It’s a lot of fun. I am a Serena Ryder fan, and I am also passionate about mental health, so saying ‘yes’ to this opportunity was a no-brainer for me.”
Fraser says that speaking out as Ryder does, can help reduce the stigma around mental illness.
“Serena sharing her story so openly allows others to feel like they are not alone and that it is okay to talk about what they’re going through,” she said.
Algonquin College does offer services for students who are in need of support. For more info, please visit https://www.algonquincollege.com/studentsupportservices/mental-health/