Participants in the "Is it just me?" conversation help themselves with stress-reliever balls and motivational stickers. Photo credit: Morgane Thery-Legrix

Algonquin College students attended the Is it just Me? presentation that closed mental health awareness week at the college on Oct. 5.

As part of The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre campaign, the presentation aimed to inspire conversation around mental health concerns and thus reduce the stigma around the matter.

In order to break the ice, Kasie Coulombe, Addiction Counsellor at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, started her presentation by asking the 35 students present in the room to define what mental health is. One after the other, in a collaborative dynamic encouraged by Coulombe throwing stress-reliever balls to the ones raising their hands, participants described what mental health looks like.

The activity had the desired effect, leading to Coulombe’s first point in the presentation: mental health concerns come in all shapes and sizes.

“The symptoms of mental health concerns are as numerous as they are inherent to each individual,” said Coulombe. “The common ones, however, lay in anxiety, depression and substance use.”

On top of raising awareness, Coulombe encouraged students to associate mental health with mental wellness.

“Your mental health is impacted if you are not doing the things that you are motivated to do,” she said.

According to Carmen Hust, teacher in the Nursing Faculty at Algonquin who attended the presentation, taking care of our mental health is part of life skills.

“Mental health is fundamental to being in post-secondary education because if you don’t have your mental health, it’s really hard to learn and to become the person that you are trying to become,” said Hust. “Students learning how to maintain their mental wellbeing has huge implications on whatever they learn.”

Therefore, the presenter encouraged participants to build their resiliency by introducing healthy and easy habits in their life.

“Coping with mental health can be as easy as writing down what you are grateful for today,” said Coulombe.