By Julia Nowicki, for the Lambda
As Mental Health Awareness Week kicks off on campus, a group of students are taking a different approach to fight the stigma surrounding the topic.
The Laurentian University Political Science Association (LUPSA) is connecting politics to mental health awareness, in an attempt to draw more attention to the issue.
On Oct. 3, the association members organized a mental health awareness walk, starting at Health Sciences North and ending at Laurentian University.
After the walk, the group gathered in the student centre to discuss the ways in which psychological illnesses had impacted their lives, through their own personal struggles or those of a family member or friend.
“As opposed to having it very fact related, we wanted to get people comfortable in a safe environment to share their stories,” said LUPSA President Kayla May.
May also noted the importance of bringing mental health awareness to students, given the impact that stigma surrounding mental health issues can have. She also acknowledged her belief that counselling and support services on campus have seen an increase in students accessing their clinic and helpline.
“It’s not just the mean things people say, it’s also the prevalence of fear in our community — that if you share your problems, somebody will hurt you. On campus everyone needs to be more open and aware and break down the barriers.”
Connecting mental health and politics is important to the group and one of their goals for events like this one, moving forward.
LUPSA Vice President Chrissy Trudel said, “We know federally there is a Mental Health Act, there are definitely things… (but) as time goes by, they need to be amended.”
Trudel added that mental health is something that politicians don’t talk about a lot, which is “unfortunate.”
The association members plan to hold other events surrounding issues of mental health throughout the year.
In the second term, LUPSA hopes to organize a lecture series focused on different communities within Sudbury, such as Aboriginal Student Affairs and the LGTBQ community, and how they uniquely deal with the issues affecting their group.
-Photos by Kayla Perry