Ease your mind

By Joanna Farley

From Jan. 23–25, a group of Clinical Pyschology graduates will launch the University of Calgary’s first mental health awareness week.

The event is designed to provide information about mental health and how to maintain it. In addition,the organizers emphasize that mental disorders are not a character flaw.

"Right now there is a stigma attached to mental disorders, which keeps people from talking about them," said Mental Health Awareness Week Coordinator Alisa Mintz. "We want to discuss some of the perceptions of mental disorders so that people can see what stereotypes there are, and what mental health is all about."

Mintz developed the idea of a mental health awareness week after reading an article in Time magazine that mentioned many post secondary students suffer from depression and cited suicide as the number two cause of death among college students.

Mintz believed it was necessary to inform U of C students about mental health issues. Accordingly, Mental Health Awareness Week will include discussion groups on mental health, and a poster presentation in MacEwan Student Centre.

The discussions will take place in the U of C residences on Jan. 23 and 24 and will address good mental health, negative perspectives and good mental health maintenance.

"All students will be welcome at these events," said Mintz. "We’ve advertised in residence so the evening events are more for residence students, but everyone is welcome."

Mintz especially hopes to see a large turnout of general students at the poster presentations, which will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in MacEwan Student Centre on Jan. 24–25.

"I hope lots of students will take 15 or 20 minutes to walk around the event," she said. "There will be a lot of information and different groups there, with pamphlets and short blurbs on posters."

This information will include symptoms of mental disorders and where to find help for them.

"There are lots of mental disorders, so there are many different kinds of symptoms," explained Mintz. "Some of the most obvious are changes in eating and sleeping habits, feeling overwhelmed, and a desire to die."

Professional help can be found for these symptoms on campus by talking to counsellors at University Counselling Services or by asking a family physican for a referral to a psychiatrist. However, Mintz believes that the best treatment is prevention.

"You need to maintain a degree of knowing your limits," she emphasized. "When you feel overwhelmed you need to take time out and let everything drop for awhile, just eat properly, rest, and take some time for yourself."

For more information on Mental Health Awareness Week, contact Alisa Mintz at 220–4964 or at armintz@ucalgary.ca.

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