Are you looking for someone to talk to about your mental health and overall well-being? Dalhousie’s peer supporters are here to help! Through the Stay Connected Mental Health Project, Dalhousie and King’s both have two on-campus peer support workers who provide free, non-judgmental, confidential, and safe mental health support to students.
What is the Stay Connected Mental Health Project?
The Stay Connected Mental Health Project is a plan designed to raise awareness and provide support (including peer support) for young people in Halifax who are experiencing mental illness. Put in place in memory of King’s student Alex Fountain, this project has already improved the access and timeliness of mental health care in Halifax.
Peer mental health support is offered on a drop-in basis every week to all Dal and King’s students from Monday to Thursday, 4–6pm in the Wellness Room of the Student Union Building (SUB). Peer support is free, safe, confidential and non-judgemental. The peer support workers are also extremely easy to relate to and talk to because of their own personal experiences with mental health. Each worker has received 16 hours of peer support training, so they’re equipped to handle anything! Before taking advantage of this service, get to know who you will be chatting with:
Tanaka is a 3rd-year medical sciences student whose favourite place in Nova Scotia is Shubie Park in Dartmouth. Tanaka chose to become a peer support worker two years ago due to the difficulties she experienced during her transition to university in Canada. She wanted to be available to support any students who were having similar experiences and feelings. Tanaka believes that the benefit of peer support lies in its lack of power dynamic. Both members of the conversation are on the same level, allowing for feelings of acceptance, belonging, and understanding which are crucial to creating a comfortable, supportive environment for growth and learning.
Meghan is currently in her 5th year of medical sciences. Originally from Antigonish, NS, she loves visiting her favourite nearby locations such as Point Pleasant Park, West Mabou Beach, and the Halifax waterfront. It was Meghan’s struggle with eating and anxiety disorders in the past that motivated her to get involved with peer support this year. Although this is only her first year working with the Stay Connected Mental Health Project on campus, she has worked with Eating Disorders Nova Scotia in the past to provide Nova Scotians with intentional peer support. Meghan believes that connection and hope are the two most important aspects of mental health recovery.
Choosing to seek help takes courage. If you’re hesitant about getting support, consider Tanaka and Meghan’s take on the subject:
“Sometimes during the semester everyone is stressed out. You may go to a friend wanting to talk/vent but they too may be going through some similar things and you don’t want to stress them/burden them. This is where peer support comes in. You are not alone, we are here to help and, above all, listen to you.” – Tanaka
“Oftentimes, people are hesitant about seeking help from others. One thing I would like to say is that you shouldn’t have to deal with this on your own. You don’t have to carry this by yourself. We can problem-solve together. What you’re going through is normal, even if it doesn’t feel like it.” – Meghan
Interested in learning more about peer support and the Stay Connected Mental Health Project? Visit Tanaka and Meghan during their weekly drop-in hours or check out dal.ca/stayconnected for more information.
Catherine thinks everyone could benefit from a little peer support!