Awareness about mental illness and wellness has infiltrated our social media news feeds, in part a result from the widespread promotion of the Bell “Let’s Talk” program. The program has shown tremendous success in awareness through social media in an effort to involve people and communities in a greater dialogue in support of mental health across Canada.
The Canadian Mental Health Association estimates that mental illness affects all Canadians at some point in their lives through a family member, friend, or colleague.
Move Your Mind is the result of collaboration between Health Services and Campus Recreation, an initiative promoting engagement in recreation alongside more traditional prescriptions for mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.
Treatment for mental health issues has most typically consisted of a combination of medication and counseling services. The Move Your Mind wellness initiative introduces complementary methods of prescription to what has been the status quo.
The initiative involves an athletics student engagement co-op, who is responsible for assisting intake students and assists students in finding an activity suitable to individual interests and goals. Activities include, though are not limited to, yoga, zumba, squash, swimming, strength and conditioning classes, as well as participation in sports clubs. Students are able to attend their activities with a designated peer volunteer and the cost of the program is waived for one activity or service for the student. Student progress is maintained through ongoing communication between student and physician.
“This is a great initiative put on by the university; it is innovative in its response and creates a community support network,” said Rebecca Norris, a graduate student studying English, “What better way to show people they are not alone in their struggles?”
The goal of the program is to increase the number of physicians that prescribe recreation for mental illness opposed to just counselling or just medication.
“For a lot of people, [counselling and medication] works really well but a certain population needs something more,” said Krystal Kowalski, a 3B recreation and sports business/recreational therapy student and campus recreation student engagement officer co-op.
The pilot program is planned to launch this summer but a blog is currently set up to encourage student involvement in on-campus activities with their peers.