Depression

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

The Rebel in You – A 12 Week Wellness Program

September 5, 2017 • Written by

Sometimes starting an exercise program can be more challenging than the working out itself. Having to figure out how to get started, learning new terminology to what’s the difference between a rep and a set as well as knowing what to exactly do while in the gym. That is why we designed a custom program specific for The Rebel in You.

This program is a complete guide to getting moving and started on a journey of healthy living. Inside you’ll learn different terms and a glossary of definitions. The program booklet has advice as to why being active is the right thing for you to do and it gives tips to help keep you on track, even when we find ourselves with a setback, we can still learn from it and use the tips to get back on. You will be shown how to find your target heart rate to make sure that when you are training aerobically you are being efficient and reaching the level needed to reach your goals. It also helps you with how to make and set goals!

Included in the program booklet is a couple of full workout programs, which you can do at your own pace and you can keep track of it with the weekly calendar data chart to measure progress. Each program can be done for the entirety of the 12 weeks, or you can switch to another one if you feel you’d like to be challenged a bit more from the previous program. One of the programs is designed without any equipment which means it can help you become more familiar with movement and your body but also it means you can also do it at home. At the end of a workout or on a day you feel you need a stretch you can use the stretching guidelines to help balance out the work you’ve been putting in from the exercising.

Regardless of your level of fitness or experience, this program is designed to help you get a little bit more from your wellness plans and to help guide you in a total wellness program. The Rebel in You wellness booklet can be found on our website and it is free to download. Feel free to ask coworkers to join in, or family members to help provide support and a bit of social gathering time while you do something good for you. To be well is less about how you “should” go to the gym, or about the time you denied yourself dessert but more of an understanding that you matter and are important. That the higher value you place on yourself to take one more step or do one more rep pays out not only in your future self but also in your present self. We all are living a life where life happens, so we do not need to wait for life to happen in the “right way” for us to be well but we can practice being well in ourselves with each moment so that we create a life of wellness and well-being.

 

 

Staff Mental Health Support, Through Lifeworks

May 4, 2017 • Written by

 


 

Every year, one in five Canadians will experience a mental health problem, whether it’s a struggle with depression, anxiety, addiction, severe stress, or another issue. And millions more will be affected by a mental health issue in someone they love.

Contact LifeWorks, toll-free, any time: Are you concerned about a child who may be suffering from anxiety, a family member who may be abusing opioids, or about an issue in your own life? Our caring, professional consultants are available 24/7 with expert advice and confidential support.

Log in any time to the program website: This month, see the Mental Health Support feature on our home page. You’ll find links to articles, infographics, and a new podcast, “Managing Your Moods,” featuring Christine Padesky, clinical psychologist, bestselling author, and cognitive behavioural therapy expert. She describes simple research-tested skills you can learn to improve your mood and boost happiness.

LifeWorks is here to support you and your loved ones through whatever challenges you may be facing.

Call LifeWorks toll-free, any time: 1-877-207-8833
TTY: 1-877-371-9978
Visit us online at www.lifeworks.com or login.lifeworks.com.
(username: rrcefap; password: efap).

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.

Guest Blog: Student Mental Health Recovery Story

March 20, 2017 • Written by

Below is a Gust Blog Written by Thania Bazan, RRC Student.

How Breathing Techniques Have Helped Me Deal with Physical and Mental Health

Hi! I am a second year student at Red River College Notre Dame Campus and enrolled in the Early Childhood Education Program. I am in my last term and will soon graduate.

In 2009, my life was very different from what it is right now. I had recently been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, a physical condition in the body that brings pain and stiffness to the muscles. I had also been suffering from depression and anxiety for several years that took me to the Emergency room with suicidal thoughts. I received medication with antidepressants but even with the medication it was hard to feel completely happy and willing to go on with life.

In 2013, I was introduced to The Art of Living Foundation, a nonprofit organization that is present in over 150 countries around the world. This foundation offers a course based on powerful breathing techniques to help with anxiety, depression and different physical and emotional illnesses.

I attended a workshop for a weekend and learned how to practice the Sudarshan Kriya Breathing Techniques. After the first session of practicing Sudarshan Kriya, my body, mind and spirit felt more relaxed. I started practicing these techniques every day for a period of a year. After a year of practicing the breathing techniques, I got enrolled in Red River College, for the first time I felt confident I had a tool that would help me deal with stress, anxiety and depression.

I have been practicing Sudarshan Kriya for the last four years and have been able to see and feel the benefits of practicing these techniques in my daily life. When feeling stressed out, exhausted or simply needing to concentrate for a school assignment, I practice Sudarshan Kriya.

 

 

I would like to invite you to explore the option of practicing these breathing techniques for relaxation and awakening of your mind. The Art of Living foundation will be holding an information session at Red River College Notre Dame Campus for people interested in taking this workshop. More information about the information session will be posted on this blog soon!                

Sincerely,

Thania Bazan

If you’d like to write a guest blog please contact Breanna at blsawatzky@rrc.ca

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

Winter Blues?

November 28, 2016 • Written by

15292647_10157961251360601_402230977_oThis time of year, the shortened days and chilly temperatures can take a toll on our mental health. Less daylight, more time spent indoors, and less physical activity can lead to a case of the winter blues. Many people report having less energy, experiencing lower mood, and having more intense food cravings during our long, cold winters.

There are things we can do, however, to help promote good mental health. Here are some suggestions:

  • Get outside during daylight hours. Even if it’s only for a few minutes, the light and air will help.
  • Exercise regularly. Whether indoors or outdoors, regular exercise boosts your mood and energy levels. Movement of any kind helps. Check out on Campus recreational services.
  • Connect with friends. Make a point of spending time with people with whom you can chat, laugh, or be active.
  • Develop good sleep habits. Whenever possible, go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. Leave smartphones and tablets in another room.
  • Eat a balanced diet. We tend to crave carbs more in the winter, so make sure you’re still eating some veggies and fruit daily.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Sometimes, the seasonal change can trigger the onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a treatable mental health condition. SAD is a type of Clinical Depression that is related to changes in the seasons. SAD symptoms that are specific to Winter depression are:

  • Irritability
  • Tiredness or low energy
  • Problems getting along with other people
  • Hypersensitivity to rejection
  • Heavy, “leaden” feeling in the arms or legs
  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain

(Mayo Clinic, 2014)

If you’re feeling low for days at a time, have thoughts of suicide, or are using alcohol/drugs to cope, see your doctor or Counselling services.

Getting Better

1765Treatments for SAD can include medication, talk therapy, and light therapy. Light therapy involves sitting near a special lamp so that you’re exposed to bright light. Light therapy mimics natural outdoor light and appears to cause a change in brain chemicals linked to mood.

In Winnipeg, light therapy lamps can be rented from the Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba. In addition, two branches of the Winnipeg Public Library have light therapy stations for public use.

If you’re feeling winter blues, whether it’s SAD or not, please reach out to someone you trust and talk about it.

 

Breanna

 

 

Got the winter blues?

January 21, 2014 • Written by

winter blues

If you’ve been feeling down lately, there may be more to it then the fact winter break has come to an end.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that affects people starting in the fall and throughout winter. This is because as the days get shorter and the weather colder, we spend less time outdoors soaking up sunlight and our much-needed Vitamin D.

On average, SAD affects 2-3 per cent of Canadians. Living in cold climates like ours (yay for Manitoba!), we’re especially susceptible to developing SAD. Some of the symptoms include irritability, moodiness, fatigue, a lack of motivation and increased appetite.

“The two things people notice most is that they want to sleep longer and eat more often”, says Tessa Blaikie, youth mental health promotions worker at the Canadian Mental Health Association Winnipeg. “This is because our bodies are lacking the energy we typically get from the sun and is looking to get it from somewhere else. It’s one reason people experience weight gain during the winter.”

Think you might be experiencing SAD? There are a couple surprisingly simple ways to feel better fast.

Since the best way to absorb sunlight in the winter is through your eyes, one of the ways to do this is by spending at least 10 minutes outdoors (I know, I know — it’s freezing!) without sunglasses on. Another possibility is to take a Vitamin D supplement each day.

For people who may be experiencing more severe symptoms, there are lamps that recreate the same light waves the sun does called SAD lamps. The lamps are easy to use (you wear them on your head) and the light is always in your peripheral so you can read, walk around, make lunch — whatever you need to do. They start at about $70 each and are widely available at health stores.

Looking for more information on SAD? Read this article from the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.