Demystifying mental illness

Posted on Thursday, April 7, 2016

According the Canadian Institute of Health Research, one in five Canadians will experience some sort of mental illness during their lifetime — and students are no exception. With the support of groups on campus, Nathalie Freynet, a PhD student at the University of Ottawa’s School of Psychology, introduced Initiative 1/5, an innovative project aimed at helping address this societal problem.

Initiative 1/5 is a Student Federation of the University of Ottawa club that helps raise awareness of mental health issues and provide mental health information and tips for individuals suffering from mental health problems. The club also works to help fight the stigma surrounding mental health disorders and to connect individuals wanting help or information with resources available on campus and in the community.

“It’s encouraging to see more groups on campus getting involved and sharing their expertise related to mental health with peers. The more voices, the more support, the more understanding there is from the community, the better it is for everyone,” mentions Ms. MacInnes Senior Mental Health Advisor at the University of Ottawa.

“While a lot is known about difficulties related to physical health, most people aren’t knowledgeable on how to recognize psychological problems, and even more so when it comes to how to deal with them. People can feel very alone facing these challenges, and it may seem impossible to get the information and support needed to overcome them,” says Freynet.

The club puts on mental health workshops and other activities to spread the word among students and Ottawa residents that resources are available for those who need help. Workshop topics include recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental health problems, accessing resources, active listening and taking care of yourself as a caregiver.

“It’s quite normal to feel stressed at different times, but if the difficulties are adversely affecting your ability to function and your personal development or cause distress over a period of several weeks, seeking psychological support can be helpful,” says Freynet.

For more information, tips or advice related to mental health, visit Initiative 1/5 on Facebook

Media inquiries

Mila Roy
Media Relations Officer
University of Ottawa
Cell: 613-762-2908

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