Waterloo talks mental health with Dialogue Xchange

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The Waterloo series of Dialogue Xchange, an international movement that describes itself as a “community-powered forum for engaged dialogue on pressing social issues,” recently held a discussion event revolving around “The Mental Health Dialogue”. The forum took place Nov. 16 at Shopify Plus on 57 Erb St. W. Approximately 50 people with diverse backgrounds attended the event; these numbers included entrepreneurs, counselors, students, business leader in various fields, and other interested parties.

The event brought these people together to have a discussion about mental health. The goal of the event was to put together a dialogue about mental health to present to the Ontario government, to make way for empowering changes in our system, and the conversations had within this room could make an impact on government policies, legislation and how the Ontario government handles future mental health dialogue.

One of the points of focus throughout the dialogue was on tolerance. Tolerance of opinions of others was emphasized, and it helped create a safe environment for people to share their opinions and personal stories in, which made for emotionally powerful conversation. Tolerance was a particularly important concept to one of the event’s attendees, who told her story of grappling with her sexuality and the suicidal thoughts that came with her revelation. “I came out after I had two kids, married for 10 years, and was Catholic,” she said. She shared her struggles and how she overcame ostracization to become a heroine for her children and reappraised her situation.

“We’re always trying to problem solve, but often when people come to talk to you they don’t want solutions, they want someone to listen,” said a counselor from the University of Waterloo.

“If you get rid of the fear and look at the person, to stop pointing fingers and understand them, you start to remove this stigma” another attendee said. He discussed the fear around mental health and how that creates barriers to communicate effectively and seek help that is needed. It also deteriorates a sense of community if you are afraid of mental disorders solely because you do not comprehend it. Lack of knowledge about mental illnesses and the fear it causes was a common topic brought up regarding mental health.

Starting and keeping conversation alive about mental health has been a priority of the Dialogue Xchange. If you are seeking help for mental health, you can make an appointment with Counselling Services in Needles Hall. In case of emergency situations the UW Campus Police can be contacted at (519) 888-4911.

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