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Students work to maintain positive mental health

The Brandon Sun - 1/30/2019

Brandon post-secondary students are working to maintain positive mental health with Bell Let's Talk Day taking place today.

Assiniboine Community College student Jennifer McBride says she writes down what her self-care item is going to be every day -- whether it's watching Netflix, taking a bath or going for a walk. Since she started, it has helped her relax and improved her mood.

"You gotta take care of yourself first because nobody else is going to," McBride said. "And you're not going to perform well in other areas of your life if you're burnt out from not taking care of yourself."

According to the province's annual statistics report, between 2012-17, 25.4 per cent of Manitobans 10 years of age and older received medical care for mood and anxiety, substance abuse, personality disorder or schizophrenia.

Assiniboine has a number of activities planned throughout the week for today's Bell Let's Talk Day, aimed at starting the conversation and reducing the stigma around mental health. On Tuesday, students were invited to speak about what mental health meant to them and put it on a speech bubble to be displayed in the cafeteria.

They also hosted a "Mindful Moments Tea" to encourage students to take a moment for themselves in the middle of their day.

It's important to talk about mental health, said Tulsa Labonte, president of the Assiniboine Community College Students' Association.

"Students are very busy, as we all know, (and) I think it's very important for everyone to acknowledge not only the demands around them but also their own priorities and to prioritize their own wellness," Labonte said.

"I know there's traditionally a lot of stigma around mental illness, which makes it all the more difficult when you're stressed to be able to have not only the time, but also the willpower to be able to speak out on the topics, so (we're) just trying to create a culture of acceptance and awareness."

There will be a presentation at Assiniboine's adult collegiate today for students to learn more about mental health and how to help end the stigma.

For Assiniboine student Rebecca Bankert, maintaining positive mental health means setting aside time to spend with her friends and family.

"It just helps me realize that life is a lot better with family, and friends and good people," Bankert said.

For civil engineering student Brodie Gill, keeping short-term goals in mind can help when life events get overwhelming.

Last week, Gill said he was thinking about dropping out after scoring poorly on a math test, but after taking the weekend and thinking about what he could look forward to in the short term, he had a change of heart.

"I'm looking forward to spring break. I'm not looking forward to the end because that's not there yet," Gill said.

It also helps to stop worrying so much about other people, he said. Instead of thinking about what your friends are doing, or this girl or that boy, he said, think about yourself.

"Just focus on what you want through school because in the end, it's your degree; your diploma," he said. "It's your life."

» mverge@brandonsun.com

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