Mulling Mental Health at SSMU Mental Health Awareness Week

SSMU’s Mental Health Awareness Week began on Monday, January 25, and sought to place mental health at the center of public discussion. A variety of McGill offices and societies partnered with the SSMU to offer stress-relieving activities to students, as well as workshops on mental health. Participants included the McGill Office of Religious and Spiritual Life (MORSL), the McGill Student Association for Collaborative Mental Health Care (CMH), and the Engineering Undergraduate Society (EUS).

Mental Health Awareness Week is a continuation of the SSMU’s efforts to improve students’ mental health and connect them with the proper resources to do so. Conveniently, the week coincided with Bell Canada’s “Let’s Talk Day,” which was integrated into SSMU’s list of planned activities.

A large part of the initiative, according to SSMU Mental Health Coordinator, Bee Khaleeli, was “offering student[s] the tools and information needed to be proactive about their own mental health.” This proactiveness involves students reaching out and accessing the resources that are offered by both SSMU and McGill, which include Nightline and the Peer Support Center.

[SSMU is] engaged in long-term conversations with McGill Student Services to push for better mental health care for students.

While Mental Health Awareness Week has sparked a discussion surrounding mental health, not all are satisfied with McGill’s current efforts to improve and promote students’ well-being. Some criticized the McGill administration for not doing enough to offer more substantial psychiatric help to students, as wait times for appointments with psychiatrists continue to take months rather than days. Khaleeli insists that SSMU is “engaged in long-term conversations with McGill Student Services to push for better mental health care for students.”

SSMU’s persistent prodding may have induced results as the administration has recently announced plans for the Rossy Student Wellness Hub, a dedicated space for students’ mental health needs and general wellbeing. The administration plans to open the Hub by Summer 2019 and promises “same-day care and triage by Access Clinicians in the Brown Building, as well as check-ins for existing medical appointments.” Acting as a centralized point for student wellness services, the hub will also include a common space, promotional space, and serve as the home of the Shag Shop. However, it is yet to be seen whether this will ease the burden on McGill’s strained mental health services.

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