NewView Collective helps make relaxing supportive space for students experiencing mental health issues
I was pacing outside room 109 at George Brown College building C, preparing myself for my first ever support meeting. I wasn’t quite ready to come in; there was this image in my head in which everyone kept talking solemnly to each other.
Then I heard laughter. Loud, cheerful laughter.
That caught me by surprise. I never expected laughter at a support group meeting. I was expecting—well you know what I was expecting. So curiosity got the better of me as I pushed the door into the room.
I was immediately welcomed with a tight hug by Shannon Grant who introduced herself, and the other people in the room. That meeting with NewView Collective then turned out to be one of the best evenings I’ve ever had.
NewView Collective is a student-run club at George Brown College (GBC) dedicated to helping students suffering from, or affected by those suffering from mental health issues.
Founded by Grant, a GBC marketing student, the group has been up and running since March 6, 2017. It was Grant’s idea to start a support group on campus about mental health. After presenting the idea in front of her business presentation skills class, she got Lenore Cohen’s support, a GBC marketing student as well, who later became the club’s co-founder.
“I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted it to look like yet, but I knew exactly why I wanted to do it,” said Grant. “I realized that there was a lack of resource choice on campus for students. There really was only one-on-one counseling, and at the time I realized a lot of students don’t respond well to that or they just don’t go for whatever reason.”
“The response from students, when one person opens up in a room, and another opens up too, is unreal,” said Cohen. “It was such an eye-opener for us that this is something that we keep working on and keep expanding.”
According to a 2010 report to the Mental Health Commission of Canada by Mary O’Hagan and others, a key benefit is “the trusting, safe and accepting environment of peer support, where people could talk openly, feel validated and share stories, exchange information and learn from each other.”
Robert Malowany, a counsellor at GBC counseling services, agreed about the benefits of peer support.
“I think it’s helpful for people who would never go see a counsellor,” said Malowany. “People can come into a place where there’s less stress, where there’s not a lot of pressure on you, and you feel safe and comfortable, and that’s ideal.”
For those who don’t really come to terms with the idea of opening up in front of strangers, you don’t really have to. In my experience, you can just come to the meeting, listen to people’s stories, and talk when you want to.
The open atmosphere of the NewView sessions has been working well for Mila Nunes, a GBC marketing management student.
“I had just dealt with something very personal and was extremely devastated, and the idea of opening up in front of other students wasn’t my favourite, so I thought I’d just go in to listen,” she said in an email. “But after even just the first meeting, I realized that this was a place where I can really open up and be heard.”
NewView Collective meets up every Tuesday, at 6:30 p.m. with scented candles, soulful music, warm hugs, and people ready to listen without any judgment.