Shred your stigma stresses the importance of mental health

Tranqool offers online counseling that is covered in health plan

On Oct. 4, therapy startup Tranqool, in partnership with George Brown’s health and wellness center, organized shred your stigma at the St. James campus to spread the word on mental health.

Initially called Pop the stigma, the event plan was to encourage students to write about a stigma they face inside a balloon and collectively pop it at 1 p.m. Since many students had latex allergies and due to the unavailability of latex-free balloons, the organizers decided to have a Shred your stigma event instead where students would write their stigma on a sheet of paper and collectively shred it.

“Shredding the stigma or popping the stigma, the intent is to get rid of it,” explained Amber Christie, one of the student ambassadors for Tranqool at George Brown. Christie is a first-year child and youth care student who recently moved to Toronto from Ottawa.

Tenniel Rock, manager of counselling and student well-being at George Brown, notes that some students don’t get support because of concerns of what that might look like. “We know that folks have to deal with school stuff but they also have to deal with personal life. What prevents people from getting support is stigma.”

“It’s perfect for trying to reach out to people about mental health and self-care,” said Christie. Rock went on to add that the best part of Tranqool was that it offered online counselling from the privacy of one’s home. While an online session costs $80, Rock said, “Every single expense is covered by your health plan. So if you’re a full time George Brown student, you have $1,000 that goes towards counselling.”

According to Harjot Bhandal, community engagement lead with Tranqool, the group aimed to utilize the mental illness awareness week as a platform to talk about the stigmas which stop people from looking at issue which are affecting their mental health. “It could be anything from stress with school to anxiety about performing in a test or could be more in depth-it could be depression,” said Bhandal.

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Shred your stigma stresses the importance of mental health