Students, staff and faculty brainstorm at mental health symposium

Mental Health Symposium 1A panel comprised of students, faculty and staff spoke about mental health in front of a gathering of 45 students at Brain Storming: Creating a Culture of Conversation at York, the mental health symposium that took place in October.

A student created this acrylic painting, described as "my brain before an exam", at the mental health symposium

The students shared personal stories and experiences, while faculty spoke about becoming advocates and activists around mental health through policy. Staff members able to point to services offered at the Glendon and Keele campuses.

The feedback and discussion from the event will be collated and shared with the Mental Health Strategy committee to ensure student Mental Health Symposium 2concerns and suggestions continue to be incorporated in its work.

The student who created this work in clay said it's "a book because whole world exists in them to escape to." It says Not The End "because so long as we keep turning the page, the story never ends, even if it's not the same book.

The event also offered participants a unique opportunity to create art to help them learn about the healing properties of engaging in the creation of something, as well as being a means of advocacy and activism. The art pieces created will go on display at an upcoming art show on campus and at the Let’s Talk Mental Health Day in January.

One of the goals of the Mental Health Strategy at York is to reduce the stigma around mental health issues and help students feel supported. One way to achieve that is to openly discuss mental health and to listen to student concerns across campus. It is also important for students to know where to Mental Health Symposium 3go for help.

The student who completed the work on the right in pastels, said "There needs to be some way to integrate everything that is in pieces and turn it into something constructive, something we can grow. That is what my drawing represents."

The Mental Health Symposium organizing committee members hope the conversation about mental health will be continued through student participation in Active Minds @ York University and MAD Positive Student Coalition, both of which can also be found through the YU Connect website.

Students can also de-stress and learn with York’s Mental Health team and the Peer Health Team – a group of peers on campus that can help teach students about time management, de-stressing, active living and managing life in a fun and healthy way.

The mental health symposium was organized in collaboration with Active Minds at York, MAD Positive Student Coalition at York, Health ED – Mental Health Team, and  Student Community & Leadership Development.