Selkirk College hits the city to share ideas about promoting healthy campus cultures . . . . .

Eight Selkirk staff, students and alumni attended the Fifth Healthy Minds Summit to share ideas around creating healthy campuses.  The three day summit  opened with this video to orient us towards the socio-ecological approach to campus well-being that would permeate our thinking and planning:

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/68574912″>Designing Healthy Campus Communities</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/cmhabc”>CMHA BC</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Jessie Keczan, Selkirk Third Year Nursing Studentshares her reflections as a presenter and student volunteer at the Healthy Minds Summit:

Healthy Minds / Healthy Campuses Summit 2014 took place from January 23-25 in Vancouver.  The summit brought together a diverse collaboration of students, staff, administrators, government personnel and community partners from all over BC, as well as campus representatives from across Canada.  We gathered with the intention to learn how to better promote positive mental health on post-secondary campuses.

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The summit unfolded as a community of practice, which emphasized information sharing, peer-to-peer communication and exchanges of ideas and creativity, rather than top-down prescriptions of how to combat mental illness.  The summit was  held with the hopes that inspiring people and healthy initiatives come together to network and connect, share, learn, co-create and inspire positive healthy changes, which proactively address student’s mental health.

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The summit was very much a call to Action!

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Within the framework of the gathering, five deliberate and strategic “Action Areas” were outlined which included:

  • Situational Assessment, Engagement and Planning
  • Campus Policies
  • Learning Environments
  • Community Connectedness, Belonging and Inclusion
  • Services and Supports

As a third year nursing student focusing on community and mental health, I had the opportunity to attend the summit, volunteer and speak from my experience.  Robin Higgins, an incredibly inspiring counsellor at Selkirk, presented and shared all of the amazing healthy campus initiatives on our campus.  Matty Hillman spoke during the student led portion of the summit about Selkirk’s dinner basket project campaign, which explores changing the culture of substance use on our campus.

I was particularly inspired by the spirit of community, collaboration and health promotion that vibrated from the summit.  From all whom attended the summit…from the various folks who represented Selkirk college, to the countless passionate student researchers from across the province, to the dedicated and heartfelt people representing larger service providers, such as Canadian Mental Health Association…it takes a community to change a culture.

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As a nursing student, I am passionate about upstream, preventative approaches to health and well-being.  During the summit I was reminded that mental illness and mental health are quite different.  While we may all be aware of the severity and rising prevalence of mental illness and suicide in the vulnerable coming of age population of college/university students, we directed our focus on wellness.  Mental health is something we all have!  It’s our individual state of well-being, and our own sense of capacities and capabilities to cope, contribute and thrive.  Just as we all have physical health, which we take care of by going for a run or working out, we have our mental health, which also requires our careful and mindful attention.

Taking care of our mental health is truly important to our overall well-being.  As a nursing student, I am grateful to understand this, just as I am grateful for having attended the healthy campus/ healthy minds summit, and for all of those who are working hard to combat stigma, rewrite policy, redesign classrooms, question values and redefine roles to create positive change in campus culture to promote mental health.   
 –  Jessie Keczan,

3rd Year Nursing Student

The Kootenay/Selkirk perspective was very appreciated at this conference and was well represented by both staff and students.  The Selkirk Team included:

Matty Hillman, Delina Underwood, Fern Hood,  Jesse McDonald, Mike McGaw,  Carolyn Tuai, Robin Higgins and  Jessie Keczan

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Carolyn Tuai and Mike McGaw, Selkirk Residence coordinators share ideas for helping Res students thrive.  Note the stickers, playdough and toys that helped us create Proto-types for change in  the Design Lab led by Archi-text from Toronto

In addition, Selkirk alumnus and Kootenai Art Therapy Institute student, Samuel Stevenson, was the Summit poet laureate.  Listening in on presentations and discussions, he was able to end our day of planning with a spoken word piece that summarized ideas, themes and longings:  

You have been working hard . . . . . and I have been listening.”    

He brought the crowd of 200 to its feet in a standing ovation and many people had tears in their eyes as they heard his deeply poetic synthesis of visions, plans and aspirations.

So, many thanks to our intrepid Kootenay crew and many, many thanks to Canadian Mental Health for paying student travel costs and welcoming us into this warm and visionary learning community!
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One response to “Selkirk College hits the city to share ideas about promoting healthy campus cultures . . . . .

  1. Sounds like it was a very enlightening, productive and inspirational 5th Healthy Minds Summit. Thank you Jessie for posting your thoughts on attending this summit.

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