Wake up George Brown students!
Mental health and the surrounding stigma is ongoing issue, and students are not as aware as they should be.
According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), “despite being so common, mental illness continues to be met with widespread stigma in hospitals, workplaces and schools, as well as in rural and urban communities; occurring around the world, unconfined by demographics or national boundaries.”
“There certainly is still stigma,” said Sebastian Sannes, 23, a business administration student at George Brown College (GBC), who says stigma is a barrier for students.
According to the MHCC, reducing stigma requires changes in behaviours and attitudes in terms of acceptance, respect and equal treatment of people suffering with mental health issues.
“I think that within certain programs we are definitely made more aware like the transition to post-secondary education program at George Brown where the teachers discuss mental health as well as coping methods,” said Daniella, 25, a student in the program who prefers not to disclose her last name due to stigma.
Culture, defined as the values, beliefs and attitudes held, learned and shared by social groups, plays a big role in how mental health is perceived at GBC.
With students from a variety of cultures, we need to help create a place where all students can feel comfortable with each other and where everyone is treated equally regardless of mental health issues.
Are students helping students?
“I want it to happen,” said Sannes. He suggests “peer groups where students can support each other through sharing of experiences, without resulting in backlash from others.”
Students are in denial that mental health issues can happen to anyone.
“They like to neglect or deny the possibility that something bad can happen to them or their close ones, and lie to themselves until it hits them,” said Gustavo Moller, 21, a marketing student at GBC.
“You have to learn what’s going on with you first and then once you get past that and figure out, well this isn’t who I am but rather a part of me, you develop self-acceptance,” said Sannes. “Others will realize this and become more aware and accepting.”
We as students need to realize that everyone is unique in their own way, and be accepting of each other for who we are.
Tina Todaro is the assistant editor for The Dialog and a student in George Brown College’s (GBC) continuing education journalism program. She has been involved with the GBC More Than Me project, Mad Pride Toronto, volunteered at CAMH and has a Mental Health First Aid certificate from the Mental Health Commission of Canada.