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RCMP and UFV collaborate for mental health week

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UFV’s Faculty of Health Sciences teamed up with the RCMP Pacific Region Training Centre for the Canadian Mental Health Association’s annual Mental Health Week from May 7 to 13. This is their first collaboration with the RCMP. For each of the three days, students, staff, faculty, first responders, and the general public were able to access events on UFV’s Chilliwack campus related to physical and mental health.

The events were a first-time collaboration between the training centre and UFV. However, Maggie Shamro, assistant professor of UFV’s nursing program, stressed that the events would be beneficial to all students and staff, not just first responders.

“Knowing about and dealing with crisis, the toll that it takes on our mental health, and how to build resilience in our practices is really important for all of us,” said Shamro.

On the first day of events, yoga for all skill levels was offered in the morning, followed by a presentation on “Mind Body Movement” held by Ken Ross, RCMP provincial and lifestyle coordinator. The presentation focused on “how physical health connects to mental health and the connection between the mind and the body,” according to Shamro.

The following day featured a nature walk along Rotary Trail and a presentation on “Building Resiliency for First Responders” by Dr. Brian Atkinson, psychological services for the Fraser Valley.

On the final day, another nature walk along Rotary Trail occurred, followed by “PTSD – The Clinical Picture and How it Relates to First Responders,” an information session presented by Shamro and Priscilla Ang of Counsellor Student Services. Shamro said that her student, having been in the military, had a lot of personal knowledge to share on the subject.

Although this group of events was orchestrated to match up with the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Mental Health Week, Shamro and Jennifer MacDonald, UFV’s health and wellness strategist, would like to do more events at different times of the year when more students are around, particularly in October and February.

“In terms of stress levels because of midterm season, the busyness of the term, and that February is when the weather is bad, moods go down,” said Shamro. “So, those are big times to promote mental health.”

Shamro emphasized that with the mental health crisis currently being seen, the conversation regarding mental health is more important than ever.

“Only in the last few years has this been a big push on campuses,” said Sharmro. “Up until then it wasn’t really talked about much, and the focus was more on students’ physical health and their academic success.”

With the success of this event, Shamro is looking forward to the future dialogue at UFV regarding mental health.

“It’s an exciting time because now it’s becoming something we’re talking about more and more, it’s more of a part of the conversation … the more we talk about it, the more that stigma goes down,” Shamro said.

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