It’s estimated that one in four Canadian university students will experience a mental health issue. Often it manifests as anxiety, panic attacks, or depression.
Those stats are why for the fourth year in a row, the University of Victoria hosted a Mental Health Showcase, as part of Mental Health Awareness Week on campus.
Anmol Swaich is UVic’s Students’ Services Director of Campaigns and Community Relations.
“It’s easy to become isolated, I think, on university campuses, despite all the people around you. This sort of event really helps bring people together, and remind them that they’re not the only ones dealing with something like mental health,” Swaich said.
“Every year, there are more and more, students especially, involved,” said Alex Sterling, UVic’s Manager of Student Life. “So more students in the audience, more students talking about the event and just knowing about the event, and then this year, we actually have more students that are part of the performance aspect as well.”
The university also has Student Mental Health Leaders, trained by UVic staff, offering support.
Leah de Zeeuw, one of the Student Mental Health Leaders, says that “we’re peer-helping essentially.”
“We’ll have events, and we’ll ask, ‘what do you want to see in this school?’ and I think having a student, verses, you know, having an authority figure ask you that…it just gets more honest answers.” she added.
Following various student performances, Canadian musician and author Rae Spoon took to the stage.
Spoon has great empathy for the challenges facing young people.
“Trying to reduce the stigma around mental health issues is really important,” says Spoon.
“I work a lot in the transgender, non-binary communities, and queer communities, with youth, and we have much higher mental health challenges, and much higher suicide rates in those communities, so it’s very close to my heart, and something that I feel is really important.”added Spoon.
“Like any university campus, and just globally across the world, and across Canada, mental health is definitely a big issue,” says Sterling. “It’s something that we all deal with, and we all need help once in a while.”