Mind it!

Call for Advisory Group Applicants: Healthy Minds Healthy College Initiative

March 27, 2017 • Written by

Healthy Minds Healthy College is a College-wide initiative to ensure RRC is a mentally healthy place to learn and work.

Are you an RRC student, staff, or faculty member who cares deeply about mental health and wellbeing? Do you want to help RRC be a health promoting College? We’re launching a call for applicants to serve as volunteers on our Advisory Group!

Purpose of the Advisory Group

The purpose of the Advisory Group is to provide critical input to shape the Healthy Minds Healthy College initiative, ensuring a wide variety of perspectives are considered. This is an excellent opportunity for you to make a difference.

We’re intentionally searching out broad representation from across the College. We’re looking for people with lived experience of mental health problems and illness, ethno cultural diversity, gender and sexual diversity, indigenous perspectives as well as folks from a variety of campus locations.

                                            Commitment Involved

The commitment involves attending one 2.5 hour long meeting every two months. You’ll usually have some reading to do in advance of the meeting. During the meeting you’ll share your opinions on how to make certain events, programs, and campaigns successful. Each person’s thoughts will be valued and respected.

How to Apply

The online application form can be found here.

For more information about this opportunity, please contact Breanna Sawatzky, Mental Health Coordinator at 204.632.2061 or blsawatzky@rrc.ca

New Red River ReliefLine: Online peer support for students

March 23, 2017 • Written by

Students here at RRC have so much on their plates that life can easily become overwhelming. Sometimes connecting with a peer who really listens can be just what someone needs in order to feel validated, put problems in perspective, and move forward in a healthy way.

We’re happy to announce the launch of Red River ReliefLine – a confidential, anonymous, online, 24/7 peer support service that is available free of charge to students.

Students can link to the service here to connect with a trained peer listener, using their computer, tablet or smart phone.

To become a user, you’ll be asked to share your email address, date of birth and a unique username. Other users and listeners will not be able to see your email address or date of birth.

Listeners From Around the World

Listeners complete online training in active listening and providing compassionate support over chat. Listeners are not counsellor or therapists and do not give advice or conduct therapy. Listeners do, however, provide emotional support and a safe space to sort out what happening in your life.

Red River ReliefLine is a customized version of the service called 7 Cups of Tea that has users and listeners from all over the world. This means that students can access listeners who speak a wide variety of languages. We hope this feature will be particularly helpful for our refugee, immigrant, and international students.

In addition to supportive chat conversations, students can access simple therapeutic exercises through ReliefLine, using the Growth Path feature.

It can feel risky to reach out for the first time, but getting support from a kind listener can be so worth it! We encourage students to use ReliefLine whenever they need it.

If you’d like more information about ReliefLine, have comments about your experience with it, or are interested in becoming a listener, please contact Breanna at blsawatzky@rrc.ca or 204-632-2061.

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

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.

 

The Body Project: A body image improvement program open to students

March 1, 2017 • Written by

Are you a female or non-binary student who struggles with feeling dissatisfied with your body? If so, you’re not alone. Many students struggle with poor body image and the negative thoughts that accompany those feelings.

There is hope. You can improve how you feel and think about your body. RRC is offering a student-run program called The Body Project that is designed to help students feel better about their bodies.

This two-session program will be held in the Notre Dame Campus Diversity Centre (D208) on March 6 and 13 from 4:30-6:30 pm.

Pizza dinner is provided and spaces are limited, so register soon!

You can register by calling 204-632-2061, emailing blsawatzky@rrc.ca or filling out the online form here: https://blogs.rrc.ca/counselling/resources/body-project/

9 Tips From The Anxiety Forums

February 21, 2017 • Written by

Last week RRC hosted two Anxiety Forums. For each event, we invited a prominent local Psychologist to speak about anxiety and then answer audience questions on the topic. The sessions were jammed full of thought provoking and useful information. Below are the 9 learnings that most resonated with me.

  1. Anxiety is adaptive. The physiological reactions related to the feeling of being anxious helped our ancestors survive. When threatened, increased heart rate, greater blood flow to large muscles, and sweating all helped early people escape danger and survive disasters.
  2. The best response to a panic attack is to “sit and breathe.” Often people feel like when they’re having a panic attack, they have to leave the situation they’re in (eg. classroom, bus), but leaving the situation is not necessary. Sit through it, breathe, and it will pass. In addition, picking something visual in your surrounding on which to focus can be helpful.
  3. Facing fears gradually AND regularly is best. Just as you wouldn’t pick up a huge, heavy weight on your first visit to the gym, you shouldn’t face your worst anxiety provoking situation all at once. Start gradually, by exposing yourself to a situation that challenges you in a manageable way. For example, if you have major anxiety around public speaking, you might start raising your hand in class every day until that action no longer feels unbearable. Then you’d move on to regularly practicing another activity that gets you a little closer to your end goal of public speaking. The keys are gradual AND regular. If this process isn’t working, chances are you’re either not doing it gradually enough or not often enough.
  4. Feelings are King. We tend to focus a lot on our feelings, because they’re very obvious to us. This can lead us to ignore the thoughts and behaviours that surround an anxiety provoking situation. Feelings, thoughts, physical reactions, and behaviours are all connected though, with each influencing and being influenced by the other. Starting to recognize the thoughts and behaviours that feed into anxiety can be a good beginning.
  5. Realistic thoughts are better than positive thoughts. Empty positive thoughts, such as, “everything will be okay,” are not grounded in strength, and therefore are not as helpful as realistic thoughts. “I’ll do well on this test if I give myself enough time to study and get a good sleep tonight,” is more likely to be a helpful thought, decreasing anxiety, since the thought is more realistic.
  6. Think through your anxious questions. If you keep saying to yourself, “what if I fail?, what if I fail?,” answer that question with what is likely to happen. Will you have to do better on the next test? Will you have to retake a course? Answer the ruminating question and then find ways to work toward success.
  7. Periods of reflection are important. Take time on a regular basis to reflect on how your mental health is doing. What’s important to you? What would you like to improve? What are some habits you’d like to work on? What are some things that are going well? Make realistic plans to reach your mental health goals.
  8. You will never have 100% control. As much as we’d like 100% control (so that we’d never have to feel anxious again), this is not going to happen. Instead, we have to grasp on to the little piece of control we do have and build on that.
  9. Sometimes we can manage on our own and sometimes we need help. Some of the strategies both Dr. Ediger and Dr. Abdulrehman discussed required being able to create plans, assess our thought patterns, come up with healthier thoughts, and try new ways of coping. Sometimes we can manage this process on our own. Sometimes a friend or family member can help us. Other times a professional like a counsellor or psychologist can be very helpful. If you’ve tried to make a change on your own and have faced road blocks, perhaps meeting with someone would help.

RRC students can set up a counselling appointment here.

RRC staff can set up a counselling appointment here. User ID: rrcefap        Password: efap

Check out the Anxiety Disorders Association of Manitoba for a lot of great information and resources.

These are 9 learnings from the Anxiety Forums that stood out to me. Are there any points you’d add?

Breanna

 

Wellness Walk: Get 3,000 Steps and Some Fresh Air!

February 16, 2017 • Written by

The Wellness Committee’s Mental Health Subcommittee has arranged two wellness walks as part of the Get Movin’ Challenge. Those who are involved in the Get Movin’ Challenge ae trying to log 7,000 steps per day, through a variety of activities, although you don’t have to be signed up for the Challenge to come out.

The wellness walks will be great opportunities to log some steps, while getting fresh air and connecting with friends and colleagues. Students, staff, and faculty are welcome. There is no need to register.

 

The Plan

We’ll be meeting at noon. Everyone is welcome (students, staff, and faculty). After a short teaching on mindful walking, we’ll head out together for a 30 minute walk, logging roughly 3000 steps. Mindful walking is not a fancy or complex idea; it’s simply the practice of being aware of your experience as you walk.

After the walk, we’ll gather together, enjoying some fair trade tea and hot chocolate, courtesy of the Wellness Committee.

 

Why a Wellness Walk?

We know that being active is great for our physical and mental health. Outdoor, mindful walking with friends leads to many health benefits, including better mental clarity, a boost in positive emotions, and improved self-esteem. Taking a break from studying or sitting at your desk, getting out for movement, sunlight and fresh air will actually make you more productive over the course of the day. So, come out and join us!

When & Where

NDC

Date: February 28th

Meeting Location: The Cave Lounge

Time: 12:00 noon – 1:00 pm

EDC

Date: February 27th

Meeting Location: Roblin Centre Cafeteria

Time: 12:00 noon – 1:00 pm

*We’d like to send a special thanks to Dayna Graham and Debbie Donato for their help in coordinating the EDC walk.

Anxiety Forums on Campus: Psychologists to educate on coping skills

February 9, 2017 • Written by

February is Psychology Month; a time when Psychologists engage the public, educating us on how psychology works to help people live healthy and happy lives. (Canadian Psychology Association)

To celebrate Psychology Month, the Manitoba Psychological Society has organized a variety of educational seminars for the public on a wide variety of psychology-related topics. RRC is fortunate to be hosting two such events. We’ve called them “Anxiety Forums.”

The forums are a part of the Healthy Minds, Healthy College initiative and are supported by the Staff and Student Wellness Committee and the Students’ Association. Each forum will  include a talk by a prominent Psychologist as well as Q & A with the audience. Pizza lunch is provided during both forums.

What is Anxiety?

According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of Manitoba (ADAM), everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. It’s completely normal and can even be helpful. For example, if you’re anxious about an upcoming test, your anxiety can motivate you to study well. However, anxiety can sometimes become severe and negatively affect your life. If your anxiety has reached this point, you may have an anxiety disorder.

Here at RRC, Counselling and Accessibility is constantly working with students who are experiencing problems with anxiety. These problems affect academic success and overall well-being.

Anxiety Forum Details

During the two forums, the speakers will share helpful coping strategies related to managing anxiety in a College setting. Although the primary target audience is students, staff and faculty will no doubt benefit from the material presented and discussion to follow.

Registration is not required. All are welcome.

EDC: February 17th at 11 am in P107 with Dr. Rehman Abdulrehman

NDC: February 15th at noon in the Orange Lecture Theatre with Dr. Jason Ediger

This forum will also be recorded and streamed by eTV for the benefit of regional campuses.

Follow the link below to view the Anxiety Forum live streaming presentation: http://blogs.rrc.ca/etv/streaming/

Click on the ‘Live Stream’ image to play. No username or password is required. The stream will go live shortly before the presentation begins.

During the live presentation, you are encouraged to ask questions or add comments. To do so, please click on the “word bubble” icon found on the bottom right of the player. Please include your name, email address (if you require a follow-up response), and a subject heading.

Note: You can also use the “word bubble” to report any technical issues.

More About the Presenters

Dr. Jason Ediger, C. Psych.

Dr. Ediger has a special interest in blending cognitive behaviour therapy with mindfulness based approaches to change and coping. His practice focuses on anxiety, mood difficulties, chronic pain and health concerns in adults and adolescents. He has extensive experience with disability claims and return to work issues. Read his full bio here.

 

Dr. Rehman Abdulrehman, C. Psych.

Dr. R. Abdulrehman is clinical psychologist with specialist training and experience in cognitive behavior therapy. He specializes in working with a broad range of anxiety, anxiety related disorders, and stress, with almost a decade of experience having worked at the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at St. Boniface Hospital. Read his full bio here.

 

Breanna Sawatzky, Mental Health Coordinator, is happy to come speak briefly to classes in order to promote awareness of these events. Contact her at  204-632-2061 or blsawatzky@rrc.ca to set up a time.

Well-being in the face of violence and discrimination

February 6, 2017 • Written by

While the news is often full of negative stories, the past couple of weeks have been particularly brutal. Between the US travel ban and the Mosque attack in Quebec City, it’s understandable that people in general, and Muslim people in particular, might be feeling additional stress and anxiety. So, how do we take care of ourselves and our communities during such tragic times, when violence and discrimination are so clearly on our minds? Here are some ideas:

  1. Be a good friend. Since Muslim Canadians were the target of violence in the Quebec City Mosque attack (a shooting our Prime Minister labelled a terrorist act), it’s important that non-muslims act as allies. It would be good to check in with your Muslim friends, classmates, and coworkers. Let them know that you’re thinking of them. Offer practical support and help. Let them know you stand for diversity and value the Muslim members of your community. Speak out against violence and discrimination.
  2. Take media breaks. Sometimes, in our efforts to remain informed, we become glued to news, radio, and social media updates. While it’s important to know what’s going on, taking breaks from media is key to maintaining our well-being. Select certain times of the day when you will be media free.
  3. Practice self-care. When times are hard it’s even more important to practice good habits like getting enough sleep, eating balanced meals regularly, and being active. Find a bit of time to do something to nurture yourself. It can be as simple as chatting with a friend, sipping a cup of tea, or playing your favorite game. Self-care may feel selfish when horrible things are happening, but we need to care for ourselves so that we can maintain our strength, stay well, and support others.
  4. Act in solidarity. When things happen that remind us of the bad or negative in the world,

    Winnipeggers attend vigil to honour the 6 people killed in the Quebec City Mosque attack. Photo from CBC.ca

    we can act in ways that support peace and good. Attending a vigil or gathering of others who are grieving can be helpful. Donating money, time, or kind words to organizations that work for diversity and inclusion can help the minority group that has been targeted, while increasing our own feelings of well-being. Some organizations working to support Muslim Manitobans are Islamic Social Services Agency and Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council. At RRC, the Intercultural Mentorship Program offers students and staff opportunities to make friends, learn about other cultures, develop awareness of own cultural lens, strengthening the sense of community and creating a welcoming and inclusive campus.

  5. Limit ruminating thoughts. If you find thoughts about the tragedy circling through your mind, keeping you from sleeping or concentrating on other tasks, take a few moments to write your thoughts down and then put the piece of paper away. Alternatively, you could imagine the thoughts being placed inside a balloon and floating away.
  6. Reach out for help. Tragedies and uncertain times affect us all differently, depending on our personal circumstances, relation to the tragedy, and our coping skills at the moment. If you could use some support in coping, reach out.

Breanna, Mental Health Coordinator

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

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