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UPEI caps off successful Mental Health Week; several initiatives announced

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The third annual UPEI Mental Health Week held March 9-13 was a great success, reinforcing the University and the UPEI Student Union's commitment to wellness among students, faculty, and staff.

'UPEI recognizes that all members of our University community are affected by mental health issues,' says President Alaa Abd-El-Aziz. 'I thank all those involved in organizing Mental Health Week, as it is important to work together to improve awareness and the resources available on campus for students, staff, and faculty.'

Themed 'Relationships Matter,' the week kicked off with a moving presentation by keynote speaker Darin Meek who spoke to how his family have moved forward since his daughter lost her battle with anxiety and depression.

Several new activities were added including an information booth; a slam-poetry event; guided meditations; and free yoga for students, faculty, and staff. All events had the aim of raising awareness about the importance of mental health and that there are resources and counselling services available at UPEI to help those cope with the various types of stress, mental illness, addictions, and disabilities.

The weeklong event is just one of many efforts by the University.

President Abd-El-Aziz and UPEI Student Union President Lucas MacArthur co-chair the 'Student Mental Health Committee' that includes faculty, staff, and student representation, reflecting further the dedication to, and importance of, mental health awareness. Created in October 2014, the committee's first action was the implementation of a free, 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week student support program in collaboration with Shepell-FGI.

The committee also serves as the adjudicating body for projects stemming from the UPEI Student Union's new Mental Health Initiatives Fund, launched this month.

UPEI Student Union President Lucas MacArthur says, 'This fund will allow UPEI students to develop new and strengthen existing mental health initiatives at UPEI. The goal of this fund is to encourage students to plan, execute, and raise awareness to address issues of mental health at UPEI.'

Applications will be considered at various times per academic semester. The application due dates for the 2015-16 year will be announced next month. Examples of projects could include but are not limited to: conferences, peer support groups, speaker series, research projects, stress busting/exam week events, film screenings, workshops, training sessions, and on/off campus events.

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Nicole Phillips
Integrated Communications

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