Stand Up for Mental Health Awareness Week

Thursday, November 22, 2012

  • 1 in 5 Committee and Stand Up for Mental Health in Peter Clark Hall (courtesy photo).

    1 in 5 Committee and Stand Up for Mental Health in Peter Clark Hall (courtesy photo).

Written by Abigel Lemak

Mental Health Awareness Week (Nov. 19 - 27 ) was kicked off with Stand Up for Mental Health, a comedy troupe of individuals who share their stories of recovery from mental health challenges build confidence and cope through humour. The group performed their stand up comedy acts in Peter Clark Hall this past Monday, leaving audience members hoping for more. 

Last night was the first time Stand Up for Mental Health had performed at U of G,” said Eve Lampert, Co-chair of the 1 in 5 committee. “My involvement stems from my experience with a family member who has faced a mental health challenge. It is so important to me that people know where to access mental health care and to decrease the stigma associated with getting help.”

The event held by U of G’s 1 in 5 committee demonstrated enthusiastic support from students and community members alike, as they gathered in Peter Clark Hall for some great stand-up. Performers varied in age and offered a wonderfully diverse narrative in their comedic acts from impersonations to rants to one-liners, leaving some audience members howling with laughter, while other tried to hide their hysterical tears. 

Stand up performers took their past experiences and struggles with mental health and shared them with the room through fearless wit and hilarious play on words. Their open attitude towards their own history with mental health fought the barrier of silence and stigma that often lingers when mental health issues are kept hidden. Their open attitude influenced the audience in generating a connection between audience and performer that aimed to make mental health a topic to be openly discussed both at the event and beyond.

“It is so important to be aware of your personal mental health all the time,” said Lampert. “The best way I have ever heard mental health explained is that it is a spectrum, where at one end there is good mental health and at the other end is a mental health crisis. It's important to be aware of where you sit on this spectrum so that if you notice that you're getting further away from good mental health, you can get assistance.”

Being diagnosed with a mental health challenge or surviving the mental health system are incredibly difficult moments in any student’s life, especially if they don’t have a strong support system of friends and family there to speak openly with and seek help from. This issue of talking about mental health was the main focus of the evening. 

“It's also important to open up the conversation about mental health,” said Lampert. “If you feel stressed or lonely or whatever the feeling may be, it's good to talk to someone about it.”

With the depressing rise of winter (for some) and the stress of school, finance, family life, it’s easy to miss when your friends or fellow classmates are having a hard time and may need some extra help, or just someone to talk to. 

“[B]e aware of the people around you,” said Lampert. “If you notice that a friend, family member, coworker, etc. seems to be having a hard time there are ways you can help too.”

Mental Health Awareness week concludes with a ALERT Workshop by Bruno Mancini, Director of Counseling and Disability Services, for students interested in learning about how to offer support to friends who are having a difficult time.

“At this time of year specifically with assignments due and exams around the corner, it is so important for everyone to take time to de-stress and take care of themselves to promote good mental health,” said Lampert.

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