Mental health committee opens discussion to students

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Feds President Antonio Brieva speaking at the mental health Q&A panel. Photo by Ju Hyun Kim

Feds hosted a Q&A panel with members of the President’s Advisory Committee on Student Mental Health (PAC-SMH) moderated by Associate Provost of Students Chris Read Oct. 24 at the SLC Great Hall as part of Mental Health Wellness Day.

The panel opened with an introduction by Feds President Antonio Brieva and remarks from President Feridun Hamdullahpur.

The panelists were Director of Campus Wellness Walter Mittlestaedt, Counsellor Tracy Morgan representing the Mental Health Experts panel, Heidi Englehart representing the Academic panel, Counselling Services Director Dr. Tom Ruttan representing the Community Partners panel, graduate student Emma McKay representing the Student Experience panel, and Saad Ahmad representing the Student Services panel.

Each panelist spoke on what their respective panel has been up to and answered general questions, as well as questions from the audience.

To start the panel, Mittlestaedt gave an overview of the PAC-SMH, the first meeting that took place May 24, and the supporting panels that the PAC-SMH is divided into.

One of the supporting panels is the Academic panel. According to Englehart, “we came into this already knowing these things — that mental health in young people 18-24 is a big problem in universities, in community colleges … but in universities we have a closed system of big groups on campus … and we’re responsible for those students.”

Another supporting panel is the student experience panel. McKay started her presentation by speaking on how students have been constantly sidelined by the administration in mental health services on campus.

“I also want to highlight that this project was given about five months of working time, no money, and zero professional advice,” McKay said. “And moderately successful programs like this have been given 18-24 months, ample funding, have been populated with professionals and academics, and have been meeting weekly.”

After the presentations by each panelist, the audience asked various questions from counselling wait times to mental health help during co-op.

The entire livestream can be found at feds.ca.

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