“Knowing that we are there for each other can be an incredible strength.” – Nathan Ruff
The Classroom Building at St. Mary’s University was buzzing on Jan 29 for Bell Let’s Talk Day, an initiative that focuses on raising money and awareness for mental illness across Canada. St. Mary’s students engaged in mindfulness coloring activities, were visited by a therapy dog, and were provided with free mental health resources.
The two members of St. Mary’s staff that spearheaded this initiative were Lesley King, School Counsellor, and Nathan Ruff, Sports Manager at St. Mary’s University. When speaking about the importance of this event, King stated, “These initiatives are important because they bring awareness to mental health and reduce stigma. It is not always easy to talk about mental health issues, and these events generate conversation around the importance of mental health.”
On Bell Let’s Talk Day, Canadians from all over the nation came together to make a positive change for individuals living with mental illness, among these supporters were the members of the St. Mary’s University sports teams.
Being a student athlete can be a demanding workload, as balancing the commitment of being a part of a busy team while keeping on top of assignments can often be a struggle. When asked about how St. Mary’s encourages its athletes to take care of their mental health Ruff stated that, “[student athletes] have high standards for themselves and expectations that they want to meet. We always encourage our athletes to take time to self-reflect and to spend some time [taking part] in self-care activities.”
One in five Canadians will suffer from some form of mental illness (Bell Let’s Talk), a statistic that is emphasized by the Lightning’s coach Nathan Ruff, who stated, “this event is so important because mental health problems and illnesses are more common than people think,” adding, “events like this help us understand that we are not alone.”
St. Mary’s University is also taking part in the ACAC ‘Make Some Noise for Mental Health’ initiative. Join us Friday, January 31 at Glenmore Christian Academy to cheer on the St. Mary’s Lightning, and show your support for #EndingTheStigma! There will be Visa gift-card giveaways, pizza, and much more!