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Students Hit the Street to Increase Awareness about Mental Health

It may not be Mental Health Awareness Month, but twelve students from the College of Nursing thought it would be a good time to remind people about common mental health statistics and community resources. The students hit the streets of downtown Saskatoon on March 28th.¬† They distributed information to people passing by, shared statistics with people who stopped to visit and asked questions to those who were willing to gather some insight into the public’s perceptions about mental health.

When asked about the purpose of the activity, organizer Sarah Liberman replied, "For the students who participated, it is a chance to share their learning and give back to a community that welcomed them into their circle of care during their acute psychiatry rotation. This interactive experience brought to life their classroom lectures, encouraged them question their own assumptions and left them with a greater understanding of the individuality and complexity within mental health." Liberman went on to say, "Providing information to the public gave the students an opportunity to help reduce the stigmas surrounding mental health through education, share their own learning and insight and reach out to people who may be silently struggling with mental illness and unaware of the community resources available to them."

Mental illness is more prevalent than most people think*:

  • 20% of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime
  • For every one person with muscular dystrophy, there are 120 with schizophrenia or bipolar¬†
  • In Saskatoon, there is estimated to be over 2,500 people living with schizophrenia

*Canadian Mental Health Association and Schizophrenia Society of Saskatchewan

By raising awareness through activities such as the one students participated in on March 28th, we can increase the accessibility and availability of services and enhance the quality of life for those living with and affected by mental illness. The Canadian Mental Health Association declares the week of May 5 - 11, 2014 as Mental Health Week. For more information, please visit http://www.mentalhealthweek.cmha.ca.