Combatting Stigma

An Impactful Mental Illness Awareness Week at RRC

October 8, 2017 • Written by

Last week, RRC observed Mental Illness Awareness Week by learning about the realities individuals face when they experience mental illness. Since we know that many staff, students, and faculty members will experience mental health problems and illness, understanding the illness and recovery process is an important part of working toward a more supportive and inclusive campus community.

Learning About Recovery Through Art and Community

Local non-profit, Artbeat Studio, visited both NDC and EDC to spread the word about their community based, peer directed program that supports artists with lived mental illness experiences to heal through art and community. You can catch the City News coverage here: City News and Artbeat at RRC

The artists who visited our campuses are: Bradley Guiboche; Nicholas Ahrens-Townshend; and Kathleen Crosby.

Learning About Anxiety Disorders

Further, we were pleased to host talks by Sarah Petty and Kendall McLean from the Anxiety Disorders Association of Manitoba (ADAM); a non-profit, peer-led self help organization  where all staff have personally experienced and overcome the disabling effects of anxiety, and are now sharing that knowledge and hope with others.

If you missed the talks, we’re thankful that eTV Studio recorded Sarah’s presentation and has posted the link to view it here.

Learning about Schizophrenia

Courtesy of the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society

On Thursday, October 5th we hosted the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society; a non-profit, charitable, community-based mental health organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for those affected with schizophrenia and psychosis. Speaker Jane Burpee helped us better understand this disorder, which effects one per cent of the population. You can find the video recording of her talk here.

Learn More

The Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health is the driving force behind Mental Illness Awareness Week annually. One of MIAW’s major initiatives is the Faces of Mental Illness campaign, a national outreach campaign featuring the stories of Canadians living in recovery from mental illness. Five Canadians have shared their stories so that you and I can better understand illnesses like Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, ADHD, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. You can read bios and watch video clips put together by this national campaign.

If, as you learn more about these disorders, you feel you might be experiencing one yourself, please reach out for help. Your family doctor is often a good place to start. RRC staff can also access our Employee and Family Assistance Plan. RRC students can complete an intake form in order to access confidential Counselling services. People who experience mental illness can get help, get better, and live a good life.

Breanna Sawatzky, Mental Health Coordinator

Mental Illness Awareness Week

September 20, 2017 • Written by

Mental Illness Awareness Week

Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) is an annual national public education campaign designed to help open the eyes of Canadians to the reality of mental illness. Many people who work and learn at RRC have experienced or will experience mental illness in their lifetime.Show your support for an inclusive campus community by attending one or more of or MIAW events.

Art Show by Artbeat Studio

Artbeat Studio is a mental health consumer initiated, peer-directed, recovery oriented program providing studio space, mentorship and more to artists living with mental illness. Come view artwork and chat with an artist about the power of art and community to promote healing.

NDC: Tuesday, Oct 3rd noon-2:00 pm, Library Hallway

EDC: Thursday, Oct 5th noon- 2:00 pm, Atrium

Coping with Anxiety as a Student: A Lived Experience

The Anxiety Disorders Association of Manitoba is a peer-led organization whose staff have personally experienced and overcome the disabling effects of anxiety. Attend this talk where the presenter will share knowledge about Anxiety Disorders as well as strategies to cope in an academic and workplace setting.

NDC: Wednesday, Oct 4th, noon-1:00 pm, Orange lecture theatre, livestreaming available

EDC: Wednesday, Oct 4th, noon-1:00 pm, P107

All About Schizophrenia

One percent of the population live with Schizophrenia so chances are you’ll work with, learn with, or teach someone who has this diagnosis. Attend this talk, by the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society, to increase your knowledge about Schizophrenia and Psychosis, while having your questions answered by the experts.

NDC: Thursday, October 5th, 11:00-noon, White lecture theatre, livestreaming available

Faces of Mental Illness Campaign

The Faces of Mental Illness is a national outreach campaign featuring the stories of Canadians living in recovery from mental illness. Posters featuring the Faces will be all over campus in an effort to raise awareness and end the stigma associated with mental illness.

If you’d like a poster to put up in your area, please contact blsawatzky@rrc.ca.

Guest Blog: Student Mental Health Story

May 3, 2017 • Written by

The following is a guest blog from Laura McNaughton, Child and Youth Care student at the Notre Dame Campus.

 

Laura McNaughton, RRC Student

For a long time, I have felt like I’ve been living two lives. The life everyone else sees, and the life I see. These two lives are drastically different.

When I was in high school, I was known as the happiest kid in school. “She is always smiling”, “She’s so upbeat and happy”. I was sarcastic and witty and joyful, but as soon as I got home, I would sleep until the next day of school. Then I would put on my happy face again and be the other side of me. No one knew the side of me when I was alone. Even now, after I have told my story to others, they are shocked- they still always say to me “But you were so happy in high school”.

Laura’s original artwork.

Depression is like a paradox. You want the illness acknowledged, but at the same time, you also want to deny it. I guess I was in my denying stage at that time. Then I started to realize I was sinking way too far down into a hole. I was in a full blown depression, I was self harming, and to me that was my normal. I had people in my life who were there for me and helped me get through it, but it was still always there- like a friend that just won’t leave you alone. But they’re not really a friend, they’re this toxic being that helps to deteriorate you. I felt all alone, even though there were people all around me. And it took years for me to be able to look at myself and see someone who was worth being around, worth living, just worth it.

Mental health is a process….

Laura (left) helping bring therapy dogs to RRC as part of her student-led practicum in Child and Youth Care.

I am now 22 years old, and actually about to graduate the Child and Youth Care Program here at Red River College. For my last practicum in my course, I actually did this new, unique student led practicum. I was a mental health advocate, connecting with people and organizations all over the city, and helping to facilitate events. Some things I accomplished were; I helped bring therapy dogs to the college for students in exams, I joined an online peer support network, I joined the advisory committee here at the college, I went to mental health talks, created my own business cards and am currently working on my own mental health event. Basically, I did so much in this last 7 weeks that I am shocked. This is not where I thought my life would be.

Laura displaying her prescribed psychiatric medication.

I used to be anxious as all hell, and too depressed to get out of bed to come to school. I used to think I had no future, and I was not going to amount to anything. This last practicum has really helped me to flourish and become who I was meant to be. Mental health is something I am so passionate about, and because of that passion, I have seen my dream become a reality.

Don’t get me wrong- I still have my bad days, I’m still depressed and have those days where I can’t function, I am still anxious, I am on medication to help, but I have something in my life to look forward to. I have found something that gets me out of bed everyday- my passion for helping others.

Mental health is so important to understand, and I want all of us to be on the positive spectrum, but it is an everyday process. It is not something that is going to come easy for some, and that is ok. It is ok not to be ok! I want to be that support for people who feel so in the dark, they cannot see the light. I want to be that light for them.

I have and am currently struggling with a mental illness, but I am here to say, that it will not stop you from accomplishing what you want out of life. It might give you some hiccups here and there, but it is not your whole life. It is not you, it is a part of you- and you are strong and beautiful and amazing and you can do anything you set your mind to. Don’t listen to the lies your illness tells you, You can do it. I believe in you.

I used to be scared to talk about my issues openly, but if it can help someone else not feel alone then I am going to do it everyday for the rest of my life.

“I know its hard to understand, if its never happened to you, but just realize its important to talk about for someone to be able to get through

 

so lets start talking about mental illness – realize it is not a choice. these people are sick, and need more of a voice

 

We need to end the stigma around mental health, Stand up, make a change, and realize happiness is our greatest wealth”

 

-excerpt from poem by Laura McNaughton

If you would like to write a guest blog about your mental health journey, please contact Breanna, Mental Health Coordinator, at blsawatzky@rrc.ca.

Michael Lansberg’s #SickNotWeak Talk

March 30, 2017 • Written by

Last week, on March 22nd, Red River College announced two new support services as part of the Healthy Minds Healthy College initiative aimed at enhancing mental health programming for students, staff and faculty.

The announcement coincided with a broader awareness-raising event, in which TSN’s Michael Landsberg — one of the faces of Bell Let’s Talk Day — brought his #SICKNOTWEAK talk to RRC.

L-R: Breanna Sawatzky, Mental Health Coordinator; Laureen Janzen, Manager, Counselling and Accessibility; Michael Landsberg; Adam Taplin, RRC Students’ Association President

Recording Available

We’re happy to make available the recording of the presentation, filmed by eTV.

Prizes

In addition, we had some awesome prizes available to those who were engaged by either:

  1. Tweeting using #LandsbergAtRRC
  2. Subscribing to the Wellness blog
  3. Asking a question live or via eTV

Here are your prize winners:

$25 Smitty’s Family Restaurant Jan Sanderson, Research Chairperson, NDC
$25 Subway Sarah Broad, BSW Practicum Student, EDC
$25 Red Lobster Shondell Orinthia Babb, Cre Com Student
$25 Tim’s Card John Allan, Human Resource Consultant, NDC
$25 Ultimate Dining Card Teresa Armstrong, Business and Technology Teacher Education Student
$25 Prepaid Mastercard Jaggar Barrault, Student, Portage Campus
$25 Tony Roma’s Derek Schmidt, Civil Engineering Student, NDC
$25 Moxies Barb Caligiuri, Records Management, NDC
$25 Boston Pizza Janaki Balakrishnan, EAL Instructor, Language Training Centre
$25 Cineplex Gift Cards Kristie Matheson, BA Student, EDC
$25 Cineplex Gift Cards Gregory Liverpool, Student
$25 Cineplex Gift Cards Angela Chotka, Project Manager, NDC
$25 Cineplex Gift Cards Joanna Simmons-Swinden, Nursing Instructor
$25 Cineplex Gift Cards Dawood Abdulsalam, Student, NDC
$25 Cineplex Gift Cards Katie Woychyshyn, Cre Com Student, EDC
$25 Cineplex Gift Cards Ashley Blackman, Director, Research and Planning, NDC
$25 Cineplex Gift Cards Treena Chabot, Business Admin. Instructor, EDC
$25 Cineplex Gift Cards Lori Lobchuk, Instructor, LTC
$100 gift certificates for Thermea Shannon Derksen, Teacher Education Instructor
$100 gift card for 10 Spa Allison Saunders, Student
$100 gift card for Jane’s Restaurant D-anne Kuby, Bookstore Staff
$100 gift certificates for Thermea Lisa Carriere, Admin Assistant, Indigenous Student Support Centre, NDC
$100 gift card to Earls Kitchen + Bar Christopher Basilio, Research Coordinator, NDC
$100 Prepaid Visa Card Chad Smith, Counsellor, EDC

If you have won a prize, please be in touch with Breanna at blsawatzky@rrc.ca to arrange pick-up. Congratulations to all winners and thank you to all who participated in person, over live stream, and on Twitter.

Let’s Talk! College-wide Mental Health Event

March 14, 2017 • Written by

Michael Landsberg, TSN sports journalist and a face of Bell Let’s Talk Day, is bringing his #SickNotWeak talk to Red River College. Come listen to his talk, ask questions and take part in a meet & greet. Help us break down the stigma related to mental health problems.

#SickNotWeak helps people understand that mental illness is a sickness, not a weakness. Michael will speak about his own experience with mental illness and will inspire us to be a more mentally healthy community.

Details

Date: Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Time: 12:00pm – 1:30pm

Where: North Gym, Notre Dame Campus – Livestreaming will be available at all other campuses

This event is for ALL staff, faculty and students. We understand that some of you may be in class or teaching class at this time, but we hope you consider attending and allowing your students to attend as well.

Lunch and Prizes

Come early for a FREE pizza & pop lunch.

 

 

There will also be prize draws where attendees can win restaurant gift cards, movie passes and even a visit to Thermea! Details regarding how you can win will be announced at the event.

 

Announcements

This event is a part of the Healthy Minds Healthy College initiative. Some exciting new programs and services related to mental health at RRC will be launched at this event. Don’t miss it!

Engage in the conversation on Twitter, using #LandsbergAtRRC on March 22nd.

 

Guest Blog: On Stigma and Mental Illness, From an RRC Alum

January 24, 2017 • Written by

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Below is a guest blog from RRC alum Jennifer Schroeder who is a mother of two, living with mental illness.

We talk a lot about the stigma attached to mental illness and the ways in which we can break down those walls. Stigma is often the driving force behind many of the barriers individuals with mental health disorders experience. Today, I would like to talk a little about those barriers and how they can and do affect us in our daily lives.
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While we have made many strides toward creating a more accessible and inclusive world, we still have far to go. As a child, my inability to concentrate in school was written off as ‘problem behavior’, and so that label followed me. The trouble with labels, is if you are told something enough times, you start to believe that is all you are. Shame is a barrier to seeking help and in turn, getting better.

Just over a year ago, I had no choice but to leave my place of employment because of my health. Mental health in the workplace is largely misunderstood, and this exacerbates the vicious cycle of shame, guilt and self-doubt. Not being able to work outside of the home can be a huge financial barrier for many individuals and families and acquiring Employment and Income Assistance due to a disability requires overcoming many hurdles, with the potential to end up with nothing. When answering the phone or even dealing with a simple task such as paying a bill seems like too much to handle, 20+ pages of forms, doctors visits and assessments can feel insurmountable.

6ab159b83703494f162b75d06eb957f8As a parent suffering with mental illness, I have encountered many hurdles throughout my journey. Something as seemingly small as getting up and out of the house to bring my child to school can be incredibly challenging for me, and because no alternative options are available, sometimes she doesn’t go. My children miss out on a lot of things because I am just not healthy enough to handle it. My meal preparation often includes quick and easy processed foods because I lack the energy and motivation to cook homemade, healthy meals from scratch. My laundry piles up for days, sometimes weeks until I am left with no clean clothes. Sometimes my kids watch TV all day, because I can’t get off of the couch. Add social media with its constant barrage of curated lives and meme shaming and it is enough to make someone feel alone and dejected. This is the never-ending cycle so many of us face and don’t talk openly about.

136222017As a student dealing with mental illness, feeling like you cannot focus, retain information or keep up with your course load can be a major roadblock. Telling an instructor you couldn’t make a deadline because of a panic attack can feel humiliating. Maybe your mental health has even prevented you from pursuing higher education, preventing you from achieving your dream. All of these things are real and valid. We must find ways to adapt our education systems to set us up for success, not failure.

cropped-colour-fix-logo1There are so many unique barriers; I am unable to touch on them all. Everyone experiences mental illness in a different way and in turn will experience varying forms and degrees of difficulty. Mental health can affect every aspect of the life of the individual suffering, from relationships, to employment, to parenting, to mundane everyday tasks. To work towards inclusivity and accessibility in a world built for the mentally well; we need to refrain from assessments or judgments of ones abilities just because their illness is invisible. We need to re-evaluate our intentions when dealing with a friend, family member or co-worker dealing with mental illness. We need to listen to what they say and believe them.

Jenn

If you are an RRC student experiencing academic difficulties due to a mental health problem or illness, please contact Accessibility Services. You can set up an appointment here

What is mental health stigma?


October 23, 2014 • Written by

It’s not weird, strange, odd or unusual to have a mental health issue. One in five of us will experience having a mental health issue at some point in our lives.

What is weird, strange, odd and unusual is that we make people feel bad for something they can’t control. This is called stigma.

Stigma, like you heard about in the video above, occurs from a place of fear. Stigma spreads misinformation, labels individuals and perpetuates stereotypes. It also leaves people with mental health issues feeling isolated and alone and can prevent others from reaching out for the help they need.

We can all play a role in breaking down stigma by educating ourselves about mental health and mental illness. Here are just two things we can be mindful of on a daily basis to help reverse negative mental health stereotypes and stigma.

  • People are not their illnessesSaying that someone is a schizophrenic or bulimic is insensitive and disrespectful because it reduces the person down to their illness. It’s important that we recognize that people are not their illness, rather they live with their illness. Many people with mental illness are already trying to understand their identity — they don’t need us to make it worse by labelling them.
  • Stigmatizing languageOften we will use words to explain one thing when really, we mean something else. For example, we might say traffic was ‘crazy’ as opposed to traffic ‘chaotic’. We might do this with the best intentions and without even noticing it, but the words we choose can have an impact on individuals with mental health issues and perpetuate stigma. So next time you catch yourself saying something was ‘crazy’ or that person is ‘so OCD’, see if there’s a better, more accurate way to describe the situation.

For more insight into how we can work together to break down stigma, visit bringchange2mind.org.