Let's talk about mental health and well-being

January 27, 2020
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I hope that the holiday season and semester break was a restful and recharging time and you are embracing the excitement of a new year and decade. Bring it on, 2020! 

I want to use my first blog of 2020 to talk about well-being in the context of Bell’s Let’s Talk Day which is Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. This opportunity for conversation recognizes that one of the biggest barriers for people seeking the help they need is the social stigma that still surrounds mental health issues. Let’s Talk is designed to support each and every one us to not only be open and get the help we might need for our own well-being challenges, but to be kind and supportive of those in our network of colleagues and friends who are on their own path of self-reflection and healing.  

So, let me walk the talk of Let’s Talk and share my own experience with mental health challenges. Eleven years ago, I lost a child to viral encephalitis. Patrick was only 16. He was a gifted student and golfer with big dreams never to be fulfilled. In my own journey of working through grief I leaned heavily on support from a number of mental health professionals who gave me so much. They helped me to recognize a ‘new normal’; that there was a way forward even as grief would always be part of my journey. I was also encouraged to talk openly about Pat; he is still my son. I have also had the great fortune to have support of colleagues and friends who listen, empathize and gently push me back on the path as I occasionally stray, from time to time, into the dark forest. My journey through grief has changed the person I am, I think mostly in a good way. It has greatly impacted my approach to professional work and personal relationships. 

 

I must confess I have really stepped out of my personal comfort zone by sharing my journey, but it seems to me that being open is at the heart of Let’s Talk. 

So, Let’s Talk about what is available at SFU Surrey for faculty, staff and students who might need a little support to enhance their well-being. Whether you’re a staff member trying to juggle work/home life, an instructor preparing course work and grading assignments or a student trying to juggle multiple deadlines, life can get a bit overwhelming at times. 

We’re fortunate to now have mental health nurses at SFU’s Surrey campus five days a week to assist our students. They’re here to listen and guide those who need mental health support and assure them that at times in our lives, it’s okay to not be okay. It’s a wonderful and important service addition to the Surrey campus and I encourage you to share this with your students. They are conveniently located in podium 2, room 2538. 

It’s so important to recognize the need to make SPACE (social connection, physical health, awareness, contribution and emotional health) for your well-being, exploring counselling options and accessing resources when needed.  You can learn more about this: http://www.sfu.ca/students/health/support/well-being.html

A Sip of CARE is a weekly drop-in workshop for students offered by SFU Health & Counselling Services. It provides an opportunity to have conversations, in an informal and safe setting, about a range of topics concerning our overall wellbeing. Visit A Sip of Care’s webpage for a list of topics, dates and times: https://www.sfu.ca/students/health/support/drop-in-groups/sipofcare.html

For staff, assistance is available offerings through the human resources department in a variety of ways. The SFU Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) provides confidential, professional assistance to help you or your family members resolve problems that affect your personal and work lives.

Be sure to stop by the mezzanine on Wed., Jan. 29 and say hello to the SFU Health & Counselling team members on hand and enjoy some of the mental health and wellness opportunities provided by their team and the Student Services engagement team. 

Be well, be kind and please reach out for assistance if needed.