Alison Flett, a third-year psychology student, writes about her experience as a Peer Helper, where she had the opportunity to plan a panel event to encourage discussion on mental health. 

My name is Alison Flett, and I am coming to the end of my leadership role as Peer Helper for Health and Counseling Services. Last night, I attended the Mental Health Panel Event that I helped plan with the Student Alliance for Mental Health and the Psychology Society. This event solidifies how important it is that students know that there is no shame in sharing with others, or coming to terms with, any struggles with mental health. During the end of the semester, this is a topic of high interest given that this period can be a time of great stress for students when assignments are due and final exams are fast approaching.

For those who could not attend, the panel event brings together a diverse group of individuals from Carleton and the surrounding community who come to speak about youth mental health awareness.  Students can come listen, engage, and participate in the discussion. Some guest speakers share their own experiences in dealing with mental health, whereas others share how you can get involved in helping to reduce the stigma that can be associated with it.

For example, the Partners for Mental Health Director talked to students about the importance of engaging in social movements to help change public policy. This really resonated with me – some people are still hesitant to discuss issues about mental health, and social media platforms can really help overcome this obstacle by bringing youth together and encouraging conversation. I think that in my role these strategies have been especially useful in helping to promote awareness of health initiatives and campaigns.

Then, Jesse Auguste, who works alongside me as a Peer Helper of Health and Counseling Services spoke about his role on campus and his involvement at CHEO. His talk highlighted why it’s so important that we provide resources to students on campus and in the community about both physical and mental health awareness. He also spoke about how we shouldn’t be afraid to share our experiences of mental health. If you sense someone is feeling down or stressed out, the simple act of talking to him or her and having a conversation can make an extreme difference in their day, or even their life.

This is why I am glad to say that in our role as Peer Helpers, we’ve been given the opportunity to share with those on campus the importance of maintaining overall health. We’ve also been given the chance to encourage students to have discussions about mental health. Most notably, this semester I helped table and raise funds for the D.I.F.D (Do it for Daron) hockey game at Carleton, a cause that raises awareness and inspires conversations about youth mental health. I also helped deliver a presentation about stress management to those in the First-in-Family Peer Mentor Program. This was a good experience because I’m always seeking to strengthen my presentation skills. It also meant a lot to me when attendees approached us and said they gained valuable insights as to ways in which they, or others around them, could better manage stress. After moments such as these I feel that through my role as Peer Helper and SAMH communications coordinator I’ve grown as a person and accomplished the goals I set out to achieve.

Submitted by Alison Flett, a third-year psychology student.

For more information on mental health awareness on campus, please visit www.carleton.ca/health/mental-wellness/


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