The University of Prince Edward Island kicked off its first annual Mental Health Week today with the installation of an acrylic-on-canvas mural and presentation by Reid Burke, Executive Director of Canadian Mental Health Association (PEI division). UPEI Mental Health Week takes place from March 11–15.
The mural was created by eight young people with psychosis and portrays their experiences using paintings, posters, and words. UPEI research manager Valerie Campbell presented the mural at the kickoff. The mural will be housed for the week in the W.A. Murphy Student Centre. The installation is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to Dr. Kate Tilleczek, UPEI’s Canada research chair in child/youth cultures and transitions, associate professor, and adjunct health systems research scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and Dr. Katherine Boydell, health systems research scientist at SickKids who have shown and discussed the mural with over 5,000 young people in high schools across Canada.
Burke’s presentation entitled “Mental Health is for All” described the importance of mental and emotional needs in conjunction with physical needs. “Canadian Mental Health Association would like to congratulate UPEI on its first annual Mental Health Awareness Week and commend them in engaging students to talk about their mental health,” said Burke. “By talking about it we can reduce the stigma and people will get the help that they need. We are looking forward to being part of the activities here this week in promoting mental health for all.”
UPEI Mental Health Week Committee chairs James Reddin, counsellor and Cathy Rose, coordinator Accessibility Services will coordinate this week’s events. Interim Vice-President Academic Dr. Christian Lacroix and Treena Smith, manager, Webster Academic Services attended the kickoff event and acted as guest speaker and event emcee.
“UPEI is proud to take part in mental health awareness. It is our collective responsibility to promote and take steps to strengthen mental health in our respective circles and workplaces,” said Lacroix. “This campaign is an excellent way to initiate this discussion.”
UPEI Mental Health Week will showcase a series of events including mental health workshops, a mental health fair, a movie screening, a therapy-dog program, and wrap-up celebration designed to challenge the stigmas surrounding mental health while providing a culture of care and education.