Announcing the WellU Podcast

We’re happy to announce the launch of a new podcast created in partnership with Compass North! 

Each episode of WellU Podcast will give an in-depth look at a health and wellness topic relevant to Lakehead Students by a Compass North Student member. 

The first episode addresses "Virtual Burnout"- something we have probably all experienced in the past few months with more and more of our lives happening online. 3rd-year medical student Felicia Lotsios breaks down what virtual burnout is and what you can do to help deal with it. Check it out on Spotify- https://cutt.ly/wellupod

 

 

Introducing the wellU podcast in partnership with compass North

World Suicide Prevention Day

September 10th marks World Suicide Prevention Day. Death by suicide is the second leading cause of death among Canadians aged 15-24 (Statistics Canada, 2017) and the most recent NCHA survey found that 16% of Canadian post-secondary students had seriously considered suicide in the past 12 months. 

This year, debunking the myths surrounding suicide and bring an increased awareness of signs and symptoms might be more important than ever. The pandemic has caused stress and disruption for everyone and according to a nationwide survey released by the CMHA and UBC, this has caused pronounced mental health concerns- including suicidal thoughts and feelings- especially among: parents, those living with mental illness or mental health issues, Indigenous people, those with a disability or individuals in the LGBTQ+ community. 

It is important to remember that individuals thinking about killing themselves do not want to die, they want to end their suffering. These individuals are feeling helpless and hopeless. It is also important to remember that suicide does not come out of nowhere, warning signs—verbally or behaviorally—precede most suicides. Therefore, it’s important to learn and understand the warnings signs associated with suicide.

The American Association of Suicidology has a mnemonic to remember warning signs frequently experienced or reported within the last few months before a suicide, or suicide attempt: IS PATH WARM? The specific warning signs are: 

I – Ideation. Expressed or communicated suicidal ideation threatening to hurt or kill themself or having thoughts of doing so

S – Substance Abuse. Increased alcohol or drug use

P – Purposelessness. No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life, start giving things away because there’s no purpose in keeping anything, no reason to maintain their hygiene

A – Anxiety. Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time, difficulty concentrating 

T – Trapped. Like there’s no way out and things will never get better

H – Hopelessness. No future orientation 

W – Withdrawal.  Isolating from friends, family and society.

A – Anger. Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge, irritable 

R – Recklessness. Engaging in high-risk activities, seemingly without thinking, impulsive behavior

M – Mood Changes.  Dramatic mood changes, flat affect, depressed mood, acting out of character

Signs that someone is at more immediate risk of suicide might include:

  • Threatening to hurt or kill themselves, or talking of wanting to hurt or kill themself; and/or

  • Looking for ways to kill themself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means; and/or

  • Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary.

If you think someone is thinking about suicide- ask them. There is a misconception that bringing up suicide can put the idea into someone’s head, but in reality, talking calmly about suicide, without showing fear or making judgments, can bring relief to someone who is feeling isolated. A willingness to listen shows sincere concern; encouraging someone to speak about their suicidal feelings can reduce the risk of an attempt. If you aren’t sure how to start a conversation with someone who appears to be struggling, check out Jack.org’s Be There golden rules. If they are not immediately at risk, you can encourage them to talk to a counsellor or someone they trust and continue to check in on them.

If you or someone else is in crisis you can:

  • Call 9-1-1.
    • For Thunder Bay Campus security, call 807-343-8911.
    • For Orillia Campus Security, call 705-330-4008 ext. 3912 

 

  • Call Crisis Response Services, a 24/7 crisis line staffed by Canadian Mental Health Association
    • Thunder Bay- 807-346-8282
    • Orillia- 705-728-5044

 

  • Not on either campus?
    • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
    • Suicide Hotlines Across the World 
    • GOOD2TALK post-secondary crisis line- 1-866-925-5454
    • Crisis Text Line powered by Kids Help Phone- a free, confidential texting service, available 24/7/365. By texting GOOD2TALKON to 686868, post-secondary students in Ontario can be connected to a trained volunteer Crisis Responder who is there to listen and support students with any issue they’re facing.
    • Crisis Service Canada: www.crisisservicescanada.ca
    • First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line: 1-855-242-3310
    • Service is available in Cree, Ojibway, Inuktitut, English and French.
    • Trans Lifeline: 1-(877) 330-6366
    • The Trevor Project (for LGBTQ Youth)- 1-866-844-7386

To learn more about how talking about suicide can make a difference join the Canadian Association of Suicide Prevention webinar, it begins at 7 pm on Sept. 10 and can be found at https://suicideprevention.ca/event-3956222.

If you aren’t confident that you could support someone who is having suicidal thoughts and feelings- there is training available through Livingworks

 

Man comforting man another man with head in hands

Back to School Stress Tips from Bounceback

Stressed out about school? Here are some small things you can do straight away to help you better tackle the challenges of student life. 

  • Stuck on a problem? Come back to it later. Or break the problem down into smaller chunks. It’s easier to tackle one small piece at a time.
  • Take a short break. Then come back refreshed or with a different perspective.
    • Grab a healthy snack (fruits, veggies, handful of nuts) and drink lots of water!
    • Get up and give your body a stretch, or go for a brisk walk to get some fresh air and clear your mind.
    • Do something fun or that you enjoy. Dance and sing along to your favourite song. Listen to a favourite podcast. Take a relaxing bath or shower. Call your best friend for a chat or to blow off some steam.
    • Breathe. Close your eyes and take slow, deep breaths. Drop your shoulders and relax your arms and legs.
  • Ask for help. Got a friend who’s really good in a particular subject? Take advantage of their expertise.
  • Get as much rest as possible. Don’t drink too much alcohol or caffeine before bed. If a particular problem is preventing you from getting to sleep, write it down and deal with it in the morning.
  • Be kind and patient to yourself. Reward yourself for your successes and for all your hard work. Don’t let the small hurdles prevent you from reaching your long-term goals. Figure out a plan for the next time. 

For more practical tips on sleeping better, increasing activity, problem solving, and more, check out our BounceBack videos at: bouncebackvideo.ca (using access code: bbtodayon)

 

 

 

 

 

The LU Jack.org chapter launches virtual mental health summit

The LU Jack.org chapter is organizing a local, virtual mental health summit from September 22nd to September 25th. There will be a plethora of workshops, talks and panels that will be occurring sporadically throughout the days. Topics for these range from a music therapy session,a resource panel, a talk on stigma, and a sit-down discussion with a Thunder Bay city council member. Finally, the summit will be taking place over Zoom. More detailed information will be posted on the Lakehead U Mental Health Peer Support Instagram page.
 
LUMHPS Mental Health Summit. 22- Music therapy, 23- sit down with a decision maker, 24- mental health resource panel, 25- Collaboration session

Black Mental Health Supports

This resource was originally curated by the Girls’ Night In team in June 2020. It is intended to help members of the Black community find resources for mental health support, including those experiencing violence-based trauma.

It’s important to note that this list was created is a non-exhaustive list and was created in the US, students might be out of the jurisdiction of some licensed/regulated supports. Student Health and Wellness is working to add Canadian resources and will continue to update the list. This is simply a place to start, if you have anything you would like to add to the list, please email activities.shcc@lakeheadu.ca

Therapy Resources

Organizations helping Black people find mental health support through therapy. Some organizations are also accepting donations if you wish to support financially.  

  • Join the BFT Initiative to provide free therapy for those in need. From the organization: The funds will be used for individuals dealing with any emotions (stress, anxiety, worry, depression, anger, hurt, grief, etc.) that they want to discuss. With the funding, we will connect those in need with a black female therapist for free therapy services. This support is greatly needed in our society with all that has been occurring in 2020. Help us give those in need a safe space to talk.
  • Free therapist-moderated support groups for the Black community - by Monument - the first is taking place on June 9th at 6:30pm ET. More info here.
  • @therapyforblackgirls: Mental Health Resources for Black Womxn
    • The Therapy for Black Girls Podcast is a weekly chat about all things mental health, personal development, and all the small decisions we can make to become the best possible versions of ourselves.
  • Real x Unplug Collective: Free Group Therapy for Young Black Womxn + Gender-Expansive People
    • From their Instagram: "These therapy sessions are specifically tailored for Black women and Black gender-expansive people. It’s not only that this space is centered around us, it’s FOR us." Follow them for more information.
    • Sign up for a session on their website once or on an ongoing weekly basis.
  • And check out Real: a company based in New York, offering free online group therapy sessions to anybody in the US. They have weekly sessions for black womxn, young black womxn, people of color, and allies
  • The Loveland Foundation Therapy Fund
  • Naseeha provides a confidential helpline, providing immediate, anonymous, and confidential support over the phone from 12 – 9 pm, 7 days a week
  • The Black Youth Helpline is a Canadian not-for-profit organization that was established in 1992 to specifically respond to the needs of Black youth nationwide.

Self-Care and Coping

Resources to aid coping and self-care

  • They also shared a Community Healing Doc with mental health resources, self-care, accounts to follow, and virtual events to support Black mental health
  • To donate: “If you would like to donate to BGWG on behalf of all this bull we already got to deal with cashapp $jjjeffer PayPal: services@blackgirlwithgardens.com it’s needed”
  • Alex Elle’s most recent writing practice freebies to help guide reflection
  • NAMI’s full list on African American Mental Health Resources
  • “The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health” by Rheeda Walker, PhD — a recommendation from @mahoganybooks, a Black-owned bookstore in Washington, D.C. “My people, we need to take moments to breathe because we are not all ok. Allies: this book is for you too.”

Meditation Resources, Workshops, and Classes

Sessions tailored to Black mental health struggles and collective trauma

Developing a Healthy Body Image

The pandemic has had its challenges- it has really thrown our routines and schedules for a loop. Developing or maintaining healthy habits is even more difficult during times of stress so it may have been or might still be a struggle to keep up with workouts and meal planning. Your body might have changed over the past few months and you might be looking at it (and yourself) more critically. 

If you don’t like your body (or a part of your body), it’s hard to feel good about your whole self. Having a healthy body image is more than simply tolerating what you look like or “not disliking” yourself. It means that you truly accept and like the way you look right now and aren’t trying to change your body to fit the way you think you should look. It means you can find strengths that make you feel good about yourself that go beyond the number on a scale, and you can resist the pressure to compare yourself to the “perfect” body that you see online and in the media. 

Turning off your negative thoughts does not happen overnight, but you can start to be more mindful of how you think about and treat yourself and your body. Try some of the following to get you started. 

  • Get into a routine. Adding structure throughout your day helps to create a sense of security and stability. Moreover, creating a routine and structure around mealtimes and exercise can help you to stay (or get back) on track.
  • Shift your mindset. Keep in mind that food is fuel- don't use it as a reward or a punishment. The same goes for working out, try to remember that you are working out because you love your body, not because you hate it. Celebrate all the wonderful things that your body can do. 
  • Be aware of how you talk about your body with family and friends. Do you often seek reassurance or validation from others to feel good about yourself? Do you often focus only on physical appearances?
  • Make a list. Start a running list of things you like about yourself—things that aren’t related to how much you weigh or what you look like. Read your list often. Add to it as you become aware of more things to like about yourself.
  • Think about social media posts critically. Notice when a post or meme is reinforcing unhealthy beliefs. Check-in with yourself: How does this post make me feel? Do I feel better or worse after reading this? Actively limit your exposure to unhelpful social media accounts by unfollowing or blocking triggering or diet-related content. Follow some body-positive accounts like I WEIGHMik Zazon, orChristine LaRainee.
  • Take a personal inventory. The next time you notice yourself having negative thoughts about your body and appearance, take a minute to think about what’s going on in your life. Are you feeling stressed out, anxious, or low? Are you facing challenges in other parts of your life? When negative thoughts come up, think about what you’d tell a friend if they were in a similar situation and then take your own advice.
  • Let a trusted friend or family member know you’re struggling. Physical distancing measures have increased feelings of anxiety and uncertainty while decreasing the sense of connection with friends and social supports. Reach out to someone close to you for support.
  • Call in the pros. Body image issues can feel like an isolating experience that is often hard for others to understand. Student Health and Wellness Counsellors are available to talk but NEDIC also offers a free helpline.
    • Instant chat is still available from 9am to 9pm, Monday to Thursday and Friday from 9am to 5pm. Emails will be answered during those hours.
    • The NEDIC helpline (1-866-NEDIC-20 and 416-340-4156) will be open from 11am to 7pm Monday to Thursday and Friday from 11 am to 5pm. All times EST.

Resources 

Lindsey Wachter, R.Kin

HBK, MSc

Woman looking at herself in the mirror

International Self- Care Day

July 24th is International Self-Care Day! 

In the past few years, self-care has become synonymous with face masks, bubble baths and green tea but the term actually began as a medical concept. Doctors considered "self-care" as a way for patients to treat themselves and exercise healthy habits- however, the practice was mostly encouraged to elderly patients and those living with mental health issues and later for health care professionals themselves.

The concept didn't really take off until it was adopted by political activities. In the 1970s, the Black Panther Party promoted self-care as a revolutionary way for Black and other oppressed citizens to begin to heal from the constant hurts of racism and marginalization, and empower themselves to continue fighting for equality. Women’s rights activists were inspired and began adapting their own ideas of what self-care meant for women, namely those living in poverty without access to healthcare. Feminist activists opened their own health clinics to ensure that women were given access to the care that they needed. 

Modern self-care is an attempt to undo the stress that we experience from school, work, relationships, and lately, current events. It’s a movement that encourages individuals to put their health and wellness first, and let go of all guilt for doing so. 

The common thread is that self-care began as a tool, a strategy for people to take action to preserve or improve one's own health. So what actions can you take towards meaningful self-care? Here are some suggestions.

Take care of the basics first. The best self-care involves things often taken for granted. Start by trying to get a little more sleep, drink a little more water, make healthier food choices, move your body, engage in self-reflection and get some fresh air—all simple ways to feel exponentially better.

Nurture connections. Research shows that positive human interaction is healing. Make a point of scheduling in time to spend with friends and family- whether its a phone call, a meal together or even a quick coffee.  

Detox your social media. Social media is a hard habit to drop—but it can be used for good. Unfollow accounts that make you feel bad about yourself. Instead, follow accounts that uplift you, whether that is cooking, humour, creativity or just really cute animals (we highly recommend @doggosdoingthings)

Practice “boring self-care.” It takes real perseverance to pay your bills, tidy your home, pack your lunch, fold your laundry and unload the dishwasher. These tasks aren’t photogenic, but they’re important steps on the way to a healthy and balanced life.

Be present. Mindfulness, the practice of being fully present in the moment, can help you make the most of your self-care practices. This doesn't have to be a formal practice like meditation (but it totally can be), you just have to take time to focus on what you are doing, while you are doing it. 

Take some time to celebrate International Self-Care day and start to develop your own self-care routine. 

 

  

Woman using make up brush while looking in the mirror.

Workspace Ergonomics

Studying from home has its perks but sometimes finding a comfortable and productive workspace is difficult. Maybe you’re used to studying wherever and whenever you can — at the dinner table, when you’re sitting down in front of the TV, or on your bed. If this true for you, it’s likely you’re plagued with a whole host of aches and pains as a result.

Here are some simply ergonomic tips to help students while working at your desktop or laptop, take some time to consider your own learning habits and workspace and see where you can identify areas for improvement:

1. Keep everything within reach- repeatedly reaching out for items while seated at your workstation is a sure-fire way to strain your muscles and hurt yourself.

2. Check your posture- It’s tempting to slouch into what initially feels like a comfortable position when you’re working at your screen, but having good posture is key. Generally speaking, your back should be both straight and supported. Your legs and elbows should be at 90 degrees.

3. Use the 20-20-20 rule- Staring at a screen for an extended period can cause digital eye strain-symptoms can be tired, heavy eyelids; blurry or double vision; muscle spasms; or headaches. Try to give your eyes a break- for every 20 minutes you work, you should take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away.

4. Switch it up- Don't stay in any one position too long- our bodies weren't designed to stay seated for long periods of time. Stand up and walk around every so often. Try some light stretching exercises to rid your body of any accumulated tension- check out this routine if you are not sure where to start.

5. Consider some ergonomic add ons- Laptops are great for portability but not so great for ergonomics- consider some additional equipment if you are going to be inputting for long periods- e.g. laptop stand, a separate keyboard and mouse. Check out this website for more advice on using a laptop ergonomically.

6. Set your chair properly- You’ll need to base the height of your chair on your own height and your workstation positioning. You want to be able to rest your elbows comfortably on your desk when you’re sitting at your chair. You want to also make sure when you’re sitting and facing forward, your gaze is going toward the center of your computer screen. 

7. Mix up your tasks- so you’re not sitting in the same position for hours and making the same types of movements over prolonged periods — potentially putting yourself at risk for overuse injuries like carpal tunnel. 

 

 

 

2SLGBTQIA+

Although Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual (2SLGBTQQIA) people are as diverse as the general Canadian population in their experiences of mental health and well-being, they face higher risks for some mental health issues due to the effects of discrimination and the social determinants of health. This list of supports is by no means exhaustive but it is a place to start. If we are missing something you know about, please feel free to email activities.shcc@lakeheadu.ca

  • Rainbow Health Ontario has developed a fact sheet about LGBTQ Mental Health.
  • 2spirits.com- provides prevention education and support for 2-Spirit, including First Nations, metis and Inuit people living with or at risk for HIV and related co-infections in the Greater Toronto Area. Their work is based on indigenous philosophies of wholistic health and wellness.
  • It Gets Better Campaign – In response to publicized suicides by LGBT youth, author Dan Savage initiated the It Gets Better campaign (http://www.itgetsbetter.org) through which supportive LGBT people and allies share supportive messages through online videos.
  • Kids Help Phone – Children and youth ages 5 to 20 can speak with trained counsellors at Kids Health Phone (1-800-668-6868).
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bi & Trans Youthline – The Lesbian, Gay, Bi & Trans Youthline offers free peer support for youth aged 26 and under (1-800-268-9688).
  • Goodhead.ca is for guys into guys (G2G) — gay, bisexual, queer, questioning, two-spirit, gender queer, gender non-binary, trans, and other guys who are sexually and/or romantically interested in other guys. It’s a place for G2G to learn and get curious about the mental health issues affecting them and their communities and to help them locate mental health services in Ontario.
  • Parents, Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) – PFLAG (www.pflagcanada.ca) is a resource for LGBT people and their families.
  • AFFIRM- A CBT-based group for LBGTQ+ youth and adults to learn stress coping skills, and meet other LGBTQ+ youth and adults in your area.
  • Trans Lifeline- A national trans-led organization dedicated to improving the quality of trans lives and fighting the epidemic of trans suicide. We are based in the US but do have a suicide hotline that is available to folks in Canada (1-877-330-6366)
  • Autostraddle-An online community and magazine for lesbian, bisexual and otherwise identifying people and their friends.
  • Lesbian R*pe Crisis Information-Database of resources and online forums for survivors of sexualized violence. Specifically targeted at lesbian folks, with a small focus on bisexual folks as well.
  • Queerantine 101: All of your COVID-19 LGBTQI2S Resources in one place!

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