Office of the President

Andrew Petter, President and Vice-Chancellor

Petter's Perspective: Notes from the President

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At SFU, Mental Health Day goes beyond October 10

October 10, 2017

October 10 is World Mental Health Day, an annual international event dedicated to raising awareness and reducing stigma for mental health issues.

At SFU, we recognize that healthy campuses are essential components of a successful university. That is why we identified a “Supportive and Healthy Work Environment” as an underlying principle of our vision to be an Engaged University

We strive to create a university that not only benefits our own members, but also provides an example to others. In this regard, we seek to:

  • Foster supportive campus environments that are vibrant and stigma-free;
  • Build and support a workplace that is equitable, enjoyable and rewarding; and
  • Respect and celebrate the diversity amongst our students, staff, faculty and communities.

Our efforts to foster a healthy campus community take many forms. This includes developing support systems, while addressing the challenges we face in providing timely mental health services to all those who require them. To this end, SFU has partnered with other post-secondary institutions to request additional provincial support for this pressing priority.

In 2010, SFU Health Promotion lead the way in creating the Healthy Campus Community initiative – which has since been recognized internationally as a model for health promoting universities. The Team also oversaw the development of the International Charter for Health Promoting Universities and Colleges, which we officially endorsed in 2016.

Initiatives such as the Hi-F.I.V.E (Friendship, Invite conversation, Value everyone’s gift, Eliminate stigma) movement, created in 2013, reached over 2500 students in various events last year and the Yellow Friendship Bench serves as a permanent symbol of mental health awareness.

The “It Takes All of Us” Campaign and Active Bystander Program remind the community to stand up to any form of violence, misconduct or bullying.

And this year to mark World Mental Health Day our Online Learning Community is featuring a blog by Psychology student Jien Hilario on the challenges of living with living with a mental health condition. Thank you to Jien for sharing her story to let others know they are not alone.

I am proud of the progress we have made to raise awareness and to foster supportive and healthy campus environments. This progress has been the product of many dedicated and engaged individuals.

I commend and thank them for their ongoing work.

And remember, if you are experiencing mental health challenges, SFU’s Health & Counselling Services and the Employee and Family Assistance Program are here to provide help and resources. You are not alone.

Above: Members of the SFU Health Promotion team at the signing of the International Charter for Health Promoting Universities and Colleges

Right: The Hi-F.I.V.E movement and the Yellow Friendship Bench help raise awareness and reduce stigma around mental health issues