Let’s Talk Mental Health!

The pictures above include photo’s of positive message cards written by students. Some of the messages say: “you are not alone”, “you matter!’ and ‘be kind to yourself”.

Exploring Mental Health Issues

By: Frankie Fiorini, Hilem Rodriguez, Farah Chandani

Mental Health is an umbrella term that encompasses may different issues.  The Canadian Mental Health Association describes it as having "a collection of disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety".  The most recent Statistics Canada report on depression is from 2012 and the numbers are big.

Data Visualization of stats Canada report courtesy of Hilem Rodriguez
Data Visualization of stats Canada report courtesy of Hilem Rodriguez

Seneca College is taking time in the month of February to raise awareness about mental health issues.  Including a Bell Let's Talk event which you can read more about below.

The college held its first mental health awareness panel for students on February 11th at the Hive.

Guest speakers present were journalists and professors Paula Todd, and Kevin Frankish who spoke more on ways to cope with their mental health. Former Breakfast Television host Kevin Frankish says he isn’t suffering with his severe depression, but in fact, he’s learning to live with it.

Photo Courtesy: Instagram/SenecaJourno

“Suffering from it means I’ve given up. You know, I’ve got a bully who’s beating me up, while I’m suffering from the punches. If we’re having a mutual fight together, you know, we’re suffering under the bully so I would rather live with something on my terms, because I’m the one who’s in control. Not the depression.”

When it came to coping mechanisms, there are a lot of different strategies. For Frankish, his best way to cope is to speak up and tell someone.

Video Courtesy: Instagram/SenecaJourno

“You want to make sure you want to stop, you want to pause, and you want to tell someone “Hey I’m feeling depressed. I’m going through an anxiety attack right now” and explain it to them” said Frankish.

But his main tips for anyone is that even though it may not look like it, they should find a doctor, find resources, and if those resources don’t help, then they should keep finding resources and “become your own advocate.”

For some helpful resources check out our article below on the P.A.S.S kit.





Bell Let's Talk Event

Let's talk mental health at Seneca

Seneca college is raising awareness for mental health. On February 29th they participated in Bell Let's Talk.

Chris Sousa is the event coordinator. He ​says Seneca has been running this event yearly for 5 years. This year Bell Let's Talk is celebrating its tenth anniversary. According to Seneca Student Federation Vice President, Palak Chawla, the event is important because "We need to speak up, we need to share the feelings and we need to have support from other people".

The college is just one of many groups that contributed more than 7.7 million-dollars. A historic milestone that the event reached this year. Having raised $500,000 more than last year.  Bell raises money by donating 5 cents for every text and social media post with #BellLetsTalk and asking the public for donations.

According to the Bell Let's Talk website $420,000 will be donated to the William Osler Health Center at the Brampton Civic Hospital to support its mental health program. This is just one example of many causes the money goes to world-wide.

When talking about the number of people who benefit from this event Sousa says, "more and more people are getting involved... we ran out of the cards [positivity cards], so a lot of people I think they are more comfortable discussing it and talking about it".

The college will be having more mental health awareness events through the month of February.

By: Frankie Fiorini

How art can help improve mental health

“It’s therapeutic, it really takes your mind away”

Photo courtesy: Hilem Rodriguez/Farah Chandani

By: Hilem Rodriguez

Jake Ballennie a 22-year-old artist from Oshawa is using his depression and anxiety to create art and improve his mental health. He says art helps him cope with his mental issues and clear his mind from negative thoughts.

When Jake was 3 months old, he lost his right eye to cancer and was bullied for being different. At an early age he began living with depression and anxiety.

“Being bullied sucked, like constantly feeling outcast, constantly feeling like you don’t have a place.” – Jake Ballennie

Jake Ballennie after his surgery/ Photo Courtesy: Jake Ballennie

According to Statistics Canada adolescence and early adulthood are the most critical periods for mental health development. Mental illness is reported to be the leading cause of disability in young people.

Jake says that while growing up he didn’t have a lot of people to depend on and art was what has helped him through his hard times.

“Art is what helps my mental health” – Jake Ballennie

He says drawing alternative art is what has helped him through bad days. Adding that when he sits down and starts to draw it helps him forget about his problems and gives him a feeling of accomplishment.

Ballenie drawing art. Photo Courtesy: Hilem Rodriguez/Farah Chandani

According to The National Survey of Art Therapy, Art therapy has grown in the past 5 year. It’s used for self-exploration and understanding by expressing one’s emotions through drawing, painting, or creating art.

“I think it helps mental health a lot, it’s something that everyone can do.” – Jake Ballennie

The Harvard Medical School says it’s linked to many benefits including improving mental health, memory and reasoning by using different shapes and colours to create art.

Megan Arleton an art therapist at Harvard-affiliated General Hospital in Massachusetts (MGH) says that the benefits of creating aren’t dependent on a person’s skill or talents.

Jake’s social platform. Photo courtesy: Hilem Rodriguez/Farah Chandani   

Ballennie is using social media platforms to upload his artwork and share it with the world. He is also incorporating his art into T-shirts and selling them to make a living. He hopes to keep improving his mental health and let people know that life gets better.















How This Mental Health Aid Kit Could Help You During Exam Week

“If someone is feeling down, it might be easy to say ‘you’re worthless or you’re not good enough’…but sometimes it could just be that you haven’t eaten all day”…says Tina Chan

Tina Chan, creator of the Panic, Anxiety, Stress Support Kit (P.A.S.S.) / Photo Courtesy: Tina Chan

By: Farah Chandani

Exam time is approaching for many students and this can cause a stressful environment. Getting assignments in on time, as well as studying for midterms can take a toll on students’ mental health.  

"This time around can be quite stressful. For me I know that I sleep less because I study until late. I also eat less and worry a lot" says Mercia Mooseely, a journalism student at Seneca College.

Post-secondary institutions across the country are trying to help students by giving out mental health aid kits. 

Tina Chan, a former grad from the University of Waterloo has created the Panic, Anxiety, Stress Support (P.A.S.S.) Kit to help students cope with their mental health. Back when Chan was a student, the way she dealt with her stress wasn’t the best. She would try to avoid thinking of stress, pull all-nighters, and binge-eat.  

The P.A.S.S kit is “based on some brainstorming sessions back when I was an undergraduate at the University of Waterloo… and it has items that combat environmental stress, as well as some flashcards that are based off some common behaviours” says Chan. 

Chan showing a Re+minder flash card

This kit includes a total of 27 RE+Minder flash cards, a pack of gum, a stress ball, ear plugs, and a sleeping mask. Each card features a short advice to read when necessary, reminding readers to do simple tasks, check in with stress levels, and offering suggestions on how to feel better. 

She says sometimes the reason students deal with these thoughts could also be because a person hasn’t eaten all day…“So it kind of points out things that you might have missed, then offer suggestions, or just another way to look at the feeling that you’re having.

The Pass Kit includes peppermint gum, a stress ball, ear plugs, a sleeping mask, and 27 flash cards / Photo Courtesy: My PASS Kit

Chan’s goal is to distribute these mental health resources to students who may not know they need these resources at the time – so if needed, they will have these items in the kit.  

As more post-secondary institutions such as Fanshawe College in Londonthe University of Guelph, and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver become aware of this mental aid health kit, Chan hopes to expand at an international level with these resources available.  

Interested in learning more about the PASS kit? Watch the video on how Chan shares her story of improving the mental health of other students with this kit:  



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