Red River College paints positive picture for mental health on campus

Anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and healing through art; the focus for Mental Illness Awareness Week  

Winnipeg, MB – As the saying goes, “art is not what you see, but what you make others see,” and this week, Red River College (RRC) will invite artists from Artbeat Studio to exhibit their work and provide staff and students with opportunities to see and understand the realities of mental illness on campus during Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW).

Through the College’s Healthy Minds Healthy College initiative many different educational events, in addition to ArtBeat Studio exhibits, have been sketched out to help raise awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.

Sessions taking place this week include learning to cope with student anxiety offered by the Anxiety Disorders Association of Manitoba, and a presentation from the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society focused on increasing knowledge about schizophrenia and psychosis.

“As a post-secondary institution focused on the health and well-being of staff and students, Mental Illness Awareness Week is an important initiative for the College to be engaged in,” said RRC’s Mental Health Coordinator, Breanna Sawatzky. “Our priority is to create opportunities for the entire college community to learn more about mental health through education, and foster a safe, responsive and supporting environment to talk about mental illness and how it impacts those who we study and work with.”

This year’s program will also expand on previous initiatives to continue to help reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness and promote and create more awareness around the many community supports and programs that are also available to staff and students.

“We are pleased to join Red River College this year for Mental Illness Awareness Week, and offer opportunities for students to speak to our alumni about how art can save lives,” said Christine Strike, Community Projects Coordinator at Artbeat Studio. “Our vision is to talk to those experiencing mental illness and say it’s okay to take a pause in life and go through a program like Artbeat Studio, and engage in artistic expression, which we believe promotes recovery, empowerment and community.”

“It’s imperative to create a dialogue around mental illness to reduce the stigma and show people they are not alone,” said Strike. “We commend Red River College for their continued work to foster a community of understanding and support around mental health, and we look forward to sharing our stories and art with staff and students this week.”

Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) is a weeklong public education campaign running from October 1 – 7, and was designed to help open the eyes of Canadians to the reality of mental illness – which according to reports from the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health, in any given year 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental health problem or illness.

Red River College’s Healthy Minds Healthy College Initiative aims to develop an environment of support and provide a sense of well-being, belonging, connectedness, and positive mental health for all students, faculty and staff to elevate their potential. Learn more at http://www.rrc.ca/mindit

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Red River College MIAW events include:

Tuesday October 3:

  • Artbeat Exhibit — Notre Dame Campus (NDC) 12-2pm, Library Hallway

Wednesday October 4:

  • Coping with Anxiety – Notre Dame Campus 12-1pm, Orange Lecture Theatre
  • Coping with Anxiety – Exchange District Campus (EDC) 12-1pm, P107, Roblin Centre

Thursday October 5:

  • ArtBeat Exhibit — EDC 12-2pm, Roblin Centre Atrium
  • All About Schizophrenia — NDC 11am-12pm, White Lecture Theatre