Mental health awareness rises on campus

Ahmed Tahir Ahmed Tahir, Vice President of Student Life at Humber North campus, gestures to “Tell Us How You De-Stress” wall outside the Humber Students’ Federation office during Mental Health and Wellness Fair. Knowing you’re not alone is key, he says. Photo by Shaun Fitl

Shaun Fitl
News Reporter

Don’t feel alone. That’s what Humber Students’ Federation wanted students to know as it hosted the Mental Health and Wellness Fair on Tuesday.

Students were given free tea and popcorn while they gained knowledge about the wide variety of services and resources represented at the campus event.

HSF marks February as a mental health awareness month because “during winter with less sunlight people get the blues from spending so much time inside,” said Ahmed Tahir, HSF Vice President of Student Life at Humber North campus.

“Also, during February you get a week to relax and unwind but around that week (it) feels like craziness with exams and midterms and assignments,” said Tahir.

He also says people sometimes feel alone because they think nobody knows how they feel.

“Mental health awareness is extremely important and across the province mental health (concern) is becoming more rampant across all different colleges and universities,” said Andrew Garnet, registered social-worker and counselor at Humber.

“The more we become aware of it, the better we can reduce students’ stresses and build support to help make the post-secondary environment more enjoyable all around,” said Garnet.

Humber Counseling offers free confidential services that are made available on the same day they are booked to fit better with busy school schedules.

A lesson at the Mental Health and Wellness fair was that sleep is very important for the mind.

“It gives our brain time to rest and restart,” said Dana Nunes, a registered nurse working at the Humber Health Centre.

“Sleep can affect your day, your mood, your work productivity and your health,” said Nunes. “(It) is kind of the springboard for the rest of your day.”

Something becoming very important is the link between physical and mental health because the brain uses, “90 per cent of all the carbohydrates from the food you eat,” said Pavneet Singh, a 21-year-old fourth-year nursing student at Humber and president of the Humber Nursing Society.

“If you try to diet you start to feel very lethargic in your head,” he said.

This is a problem for Humber students who do not eat enough because of busy schedules. Eating less affects the mind directly.

“Statistics by the Mental Health Commission indicate a third of people are suffering from mental illness,” said Pat Thacker, a certified mental health first aid instructor with the Mental Health Commission of Canada and an instructor at the Everyone Matters agency to raise respect for all individuals.

“It is probably much higher but a lot of people are suffering in silence,” she said.

The Humber Students’ Federation is using the hashtag #HSFBounceForward for a contest it is having all month. They are asking students to submit a short letter about them overcoming a mental health issue. They have a chance to have their letter published on, get $500 in their pocket and $500 donated to the mental health charity of their choice.