UW elective specializes in mental health awareness & preparedness

Graphic by Sophie Lin

While it’s a common criticism to say the University of Waterloo doesn’t adequately address mental health concerns, you’d be hard-pressed to find a course like Applied Health Sciences (AHS) 100 – Foundations of a Healthy Lifestyle at many other universities.

Tackling student mental health head-on, the UW-exclusive elective provides students with tools to become wise consumers of their own mental and physical health.

It aims to have students assess their health and wellbeing, and start to build a plan to maintain their healthy behaviours and modify not-so healthy behaviours.

“Health and wellbeing are extremely important, and in order to live a long and healthy life, we need to take a look at how we consume health and wellbeing right now so we can set ourselves up for a long and fulfilling life,” the course’s instructor, Wade Wilson, told Imprint. “In order to perform at our best right now in academics, co- op, and other areas of our lives, we need to have a basic understanding of how we define, think about, and behave in terms of our health and wellbeing. “Wilson added, “This class was designed with the intention of providing all students on campus the opportunity to enroll. This class is available campus-wide.”

The instructor comes from a background in Sports Psychology, having completed his PhD in Recreation and Leisure Studies here at UW. Wilson asserted, “I am familiar with and use a lot of the content in the class as it relates to behaviour change, stress, anxiety, energy management, and time-management.”

The course offers several practical skills, including, tips on how to improve sleep, breathing exercises for stress and relaxation, a guide to the variety of mental health services on campus, tools to recognize when we need help, and much more. While there’s obviously room for the improvement of mental health awareness and preparedness on campus, Wilson acknowledges the “strides” UW has made to better address mental health.“The UW Campus Wellness webpage is a great place to look as it outlines a broad range of services available on campus,” Wilson recommended.

“We also highlight these services in AHS 100 so that students are aware of what they have access to on campus as well as other services that provide needed support (e.g., financial services, food bank). “

If you are interested in this course, looking for an elective, and would like to enroll for next Winter (Jan. 2019), set a reminder on your phone or computer to enroll in AHS 100 when Winter course selection begins.