Students

Support for Alcoholism Recovery Coming to Campus

August 22, 2017 • Written by

This Autumn, there will be an additional support on campus to help individuals attain recovery and wellness: an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) group.

According to AA, Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.

For more information about AA, and answers to frequently asked questions, visit http://www.aamanitoba.org/

At this point, we are asking any individuals who would like to either help start the group, or attend the group contact Steve (with AA) or Breanna (RRC’s Mental Health Coordinator) so that we can decide on a day and time to hold the meeting.

Contacts

Steve: area80picpc@gmail.com

Breanna: 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.

Bring new meaning to the phrase “Take it to heart”

May 2, 2017 • Written by

Our hearts are more than a symbol for our feelings, although the heart does respond to stress, attraction, anxiety, joy and depression among many influencers. Our hearts provide a “pulse” (pun intended) for our current state of health – if the pressure is too high or too low we experience negative side effects, and the body responds through physical reactions such as sweating, “blushing”, feeling dizzy or short of breath. It’s important to listen to your heart when faced with mental and physical concerns, it will indicate the severity of the situation and if need be will override your whole system.

Taking care of your heart can be as simple as what you put into your body, using recipes like these found through the Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/recipes/heart-healthy-recipes/rcs-20077163/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=heart-healthy. Nutritional habits, however, are rarely as simple to identify and stick to so don’t be hesitant to ask for professional assistance.

Physical activity, particularly cardiovascular exercise, will benefit your mind and body. The heart requires exercise to strengthen it, allowing it to pump blood more efficiently throughout the body and keep all vital systems nourished. Although it is not always necessary to lost weight to improve your heart health, weight loss is often a side effect of improved nutrition and physical activity. Canadians are busier than ever, in their work and home lives, and it can be very tough to set aside time each day to exercise. The best strategy in that case is to learn how to sneak more physical activity into your already established routine, such as these examples: http://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/weight-management-guide/easy-ways-to-sneak-exercise-into-your-day/

Stress is a leading cause of high blood pressure, a huge strain on your heart. Learning to cope with external stressors before your body needs to physically react to call attention to the issue will benefit your mental and physical health. Resilience is our greatest weapon against stress. Learn to improve your personal resilience through this guide: http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/resilience-training/in-depth/resilience/art-20046311?pg=2

Take your total health to heart, and take care of it!

 

Stress Relief with Therapy Dogs

April 27, 2017 • Written by

St Johns Ambulance therapy dogs and volunteers at the Roblin Centre, part of the Healthy Minds Healthy College initiative.

Laura McNaughton, Child and Youth Care student and Healthy Minds Healthy College volunteer – L – spends some time with Pepper.

Earlier this week we had the privilege of welcoming St Johns Ambulance therapy dogs to both the Notre Dame and Exchange District campuses. Students were able to reduce some of their exam period stress by spending time with these beautiful and calm creatures.

On the topic of animal companionship and health, Christine Holowick-Sparkes of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority writes, “A few minutes of stroking a pet dog prompts a release of a number of ‘feel good’ hormones in humans, including serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin. These help people calm down and relax. Petting a pooch also results in decreased levels of the primary stress hormone cortisol.”

A student spends some time with Cooper the Pomeranian.

There are many additional health benefits related to animal companionship. You can read more about them in Holowick-Sparkes’ full article.

If you want to spend more time with pets, but personal or financial circumstances make it difficult to own your own pet, you may consider volunteering at a pet shelter or even walking a neighbour’s dog.

Thank you to all the students and staff who came out to visit the dogs and to the St Johns Ambulance volunteers for being so generous with their time.

Being with animals is just one way we can care for our mental health, building mental and emotional resilience so that we can better manage stressors such as exams and project deadlines.

What are some other things that help calm you and reduce your stress? Some people take deep breaths, walk, spend time in nature or listen to calming music. Find what works for you and build some time into your study schedule for these healthy breaks.

 

 

 

 

Breanna Sawatzky, Mental Health Coordinator

 

 

 

Therapy Dogs on Campus! April 24th and 25th

April 20, 2017 • Written by

The end of term can be a very stressful period, with students experiencing added pressure to complete projects and perform well on exams. In order to help students cope with this stress, we’re welcoming the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program to campus. Students will be encouraged to sit with, feel, touch and pet a trained dog, enjoying the relaxing effect this can have on their mind, body, and emotions.

According to St. John Ambulance, the nation-wide program boasts 3,354 volunteer teams who assisted more than 120,000 clients throughout 2015. Therapy dog teams visit hospitals, retirement residences, care facilities, schools and universities.

Therapy dogs have been on campus in the past, and many students have genuinely enjoyed the visits.

Please join us at the following times/locations:

Monday, April 24 in the Cave Lounge at NDC, 11:30am-1:00pm

Tuesday, April 25 in the Atrium of Roblin Centre, 11:30am-1:00pm

For more information, please contact Breanna Sawatzky at 204-632-2061 or blsawatzky@rrc.ca

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.

 

Get Movin Challenge Prize Winners

March 3, 2017 • Written by

The Get Movin Challenge Winners for 2017 were announced in the Cave today. For the entire month of February, staff and students at RRC met the challenge of reaching 7,000 steps per day. Three separate prize categories were made, with entry into each level’s draw based on the amount of days with 7,000 steps reached. As the prize winners were announced, folks also enjoyed a pancake breakfast put on by the RRCSA, with proceeds going to the Food Bank. Thanks to everyoneattending today, and all of those who participated in the Get Movin Challenge, we already look forward to next years Challenge!

Bronze Level Winners (min 10 days)

Rebels Pack Winners: Dennis Korabelnikov; Lynn Gibson; Chad Smith; Samantha Feal; Debra Wutke; Tracy Luedtke; Ray Hoemsen; Laureen Janzen; F. Rick Pizzi; Penny Rawson; Roberta Mack

Yard Game Winner: Lynn Thompson

Lawn Chair (provided by Great-West Life) Winner: Erika Skaftfeld

Beach Umbrella (provided by Great-West Life) Winner: Leslie Ternowetsky

Yoga mat (x2) Winner: Marie Graff and Lauren Waples

Cooler basket (provided by HUB STRATA) Winner: Derek Reykdal

Silver Level Winners (min 15 days)

Athletic Therapy session Winners: – Riann Ritchot and Cynthia Alles-Parasidis

$50 Gift Card to Jane’s Restaurant Winner: Lana Neufeld

1 Free Rec Services Fitness Class Winner: Karen Di Pietro

Saje Wellness Diffuser with Oil (valued at $100) Winner: Hellen Pollard

1 Pair Snow Shoes Winner: James Slade

$100 Golf Dome Gift Certificate Winner: Diane Brown

Photoshoot (valued at $175, provided by Lindsay Rowan) Winner: Patrick Griffith

Gold Level Winners (min 20 days)

$200 Thermea Spa Gift Certificate Winner: Sean Audet

$200 Visa Gift Card Winner: Faye Bychuk

$200 Float Calm Therapy Centre Gift Certificate Winner: Maria Turla

$200 Sport Chek Gift Card Winner: Lindsay Allan

Door Prize Winner

2 Pack of Manitoba Moose Tickets Winner: Michelle Johnson

 

 

 

 

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