Jack.org and ASFA join forces to destigmatize mental health
Two Concordia student organizations are working together to confront the stigma that hinders conversations surrounding mental health.
Concordia’s chapter of Jack.org, which advertises itself as “the only national network of young leaders transforming the way we think about mental health,” joined the Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA) in a presentation held on Nov. 21. The event was organized to help change the dialogue around the psychological challenges many students face.
“Creating a space to talk about it really demystifies things and makes it more accessible,” said Dale Robinson, the former manager of Concordia’s counselling and psychological services.
Concordia students Maya Okindo and Josie Fomé spoke at the event on behalf of Concordia’s Jack.org chapter. They provided information to assist anyone who may be experiencing mental health issues, including when to seek help and where to find it.
A key point brought up by Okindo and Fomé during the talk was that mental health exists on a spectrum, and where one falls on that spectrum can change over time. The presenters explained that mental health can be impacted by a wide range of factors, such as genetic predisposition, a person’s environment, the culture in which a person is raised and the way society as a whole views people with mental health issues.
The presenters noted that, while one in five Canadians will struggle with mental health in their lifetime, only one in four of them will seek help.
Concordia students have access to a variety of options when it comes to mental health.
Robinson noted that Concordia’s support system is “made up of counselling and psychological services, health services and access centres for students with disabilities.” She explained that these offices work together, like a network, so that students receive the best care possible.
“The services were already good; I think they’re going to be even better because of the fact that there’s active interaction and a network,” Robinson said.
Other speakers and organizers at the event shared stories of their struggles with mental health, including ASFA president Jonathan Roy. When asked why events like the Jack.org talk are important, Roy recalled the lowest points in his life, saying that he wanted to make sure others wouldn’t have to feel the same.
“You have to go through the low moments,” Fomé said, “but you don’t have to go through them alone.” She added that students should never feel afraid to seek help because “it’s okay not to be okay.”
Concordia students in need of psychological support are afforded 10 free counselling sessions through the school. No referral is needed; students simply have to present themselves to a triage centre at either the Loyola or Sir George Williams (SGW) campus. From there, students will be placed with a counsellor.
Counselling and psychological services can be found in room H-440 on the SGW campus or room AD-103 on the Loyola campus.
Graphic by Zeze Le Lin