With music playing and a multi-coloured bouncy house set up in the Student Commons lobby, the Happy Place Event was hard for students to miss. When students passed the bounce house they saw video game stations, a trivia game and tables from different organizations with mental health services.
Algonquin College’s Students’ Association and Health Services organized the event on Jan. 29 in association with Bell Let’s Talk day to promote mental health education, research, awareness and ending social stigma.
There was a strong focus on self-care and decreasing stigma around mental health from participants and staff.
“Self-care is a way to clear your mind when you’re overworked,” said Allison Barnes, the events programmer for the Students’ Association. “It’s important to take a break for your overall well-being.”
Students could access tables set up by different organizations with information on dealing with mental health issues.
“There are lots of different services at the school,” said Barnes. “There’s Counselling, Health Services and Project Lighthouse.”
Health Services table had signs for students to write messages to show others that they are not alone in their struggles with mental health.
One student looking at the messages posted was Hailey Lachance, a second-year early childhood education student. Lachance struggled with her mental health during her first year at school.
“I took time to reflect and it really made a difference in succeeding,” said Lachance. “It took some me time and not worrying about others which sounds bad but I just needed to be alone. I don’t even recognize myself from last year.”
Health and counselling services are two places on campus to access mental health resources. There were other organizations from around Ottawa offering information to students.
One table accessible at the event was Ottawa Public Health. “Physical health is just as important as mental health,” said Kimberly David, a public health nurse with the mental health team at Ottawa Public Health.
Ottawa Public Health offers community support partnerships and does various presentations around the city to decrease stigma in different ways.
“There needs to be support for decreasing stigma,” said David.