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Scrabble tiles spelling out the words: mental health. // Image from Piqsels

Unlocking success: 15 ways UM supports mental health

October 10, 2023 — 

Learning at a top university like the University of Manitoba can be stressful. It’s designed that way on purpose to prepare students for pressures they will face throughout their lives. But that doesn’t mean a student should become unwell. Many students need a bit of help coping with the pressures a post-secondary education makes them endure—pressures that, ultimately, when done right, transform them into a stronger, sharper version of themselves. 

Taking care of your mental health is not new. In 1964, UM was hosting lectures on student mental health in its Libraries. Since then, dedicated experts at UM have developed a series of roadmaps that have brought us to today, where Maclean’s magazine ranked UM second in mental health services among Canadian medical-doctoral universities in 2022.

Here’s a quick list of what we offer and do.

  1. Opened in September 2023, the Student Wellness Centre on the Fort Garry campus is a new hub for students looking for mental health and wellness services, including professional consultation and peer support to help students learn skills to actively maintain their wellbeing throughout their time in university.                 
  2. Open all year, the Student Counselling Centre provides free workshops and counselling (for individuals or groups) and mental health support to University of Manitoba, English Language Centre, and International College of Manitoba students.
  3. Maybe you want a less formal approach. We’ll meet you where you are. Healthy U is a peer support group of highly-trained student health educators. You could even sign-up to become one.
  4. There is also all the support and cultural programming available through Migizii Agamik—Bald Eagle Lodge, including weekly sharing circles with Elders in Residence. 
  5. The Spiritual Care and Multi-Faith Centre supports students as they navigate through the highs and lows of academic life, helping to piece together and make sense of the troubling, confusing, and exciting parts that make up their lives. Spiritual health services are available to all, whether you identify as spiritual, atheist, religious or agnostic.
  6. The Spiritual Care and Multi-Faith Centre and the Student Counselling Centre have collaborated to offer a new group this fall: Understanding and Healing from the Soul Wounds of Racialized Trauma.
  7. Love needs to be nurtured. UM offers couples counselling, even if the partner is outside of the UM community. UM wants you to love your studies, and your partner.
  8. Probably everyone at some point dreams about being a famed musician, but in reality, performing is tough. That’s why Desautels Faculty of Music pioneered the “Wellness in Music” series specifically for these students and their needs. The faculty embeds a mental health counsellor and every year, offers workshops like this one on food, and another one on finding balance. It’s just one story from one Faculty, but it shows how this university is meeting students where they need to be met.
  9. Just because you’ve graduated, doesn’t mean we stop caring about your wellbeing. Take the Faculty of Law: not only does it have in-house mental health counsellors, but it also runs alumni supports. And it has recently developed this innovative course looking at mental health issues and the law.
  10. In 2014, UM launched its mental health strategy, which in the following years impacted our community immensely. Read about current initiatives and priorities.
  11. The Learning Disability Service Clinic provides assessments for learning disabilities related to reading, writing, and math as well as attention related problems to University of Manitoba students.
  12. Researchers at UM are looking at mental health issues from a variety of angles too, from the mental health of First Nations children to Adult Manitobans and children, in general.
  13. Other UM researchers have looked at where resources are needed and used to understand how poverty impacts mental health and care, and how we can help adults connect.
  14. UM is also where our researchers were some of the first to study mental health effects of COVID-19 later going on to call for a mental health vaccine during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  15. Every year UM takes part in Bell Let’s Talk Day to encourage discussion, reflection, and well-being.

This is just a quick list of 15 ways UM supports students and Manitobans’ mental health because as President and Vice-Chancellor Michael Benarroch reminds us, “UM is a community that exists to help one another thrive.”

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