Mental health first aid at St. F.X. received a $20,000 boost, Jan. 17, from the Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund.
A release from the university, to accompany the announcement which took place at the Bloomfield Centre on campus, noted it will help expand “mental health literacy and mental health first aid training on campus.”
“This funding will support training of an additional mental health first aid (adults who interact with youth) course instructor at St. F.X., as well as training materials,” the release further noted.
“St. F.X. also plans to partner with First Nations experts, who are trained as instructors in the mental health first aid First Nations course, to offer specialized training to student services professionals.”
Making the presentation of the funding as the Bell representative was St. F.X. alum John Ouellette. He talked about Bell supporting mental health initiatives, including their well-known Bell Let’s Talk Day, which will take place this year on Jan. 31.
“Bell has recognized that, an appropriate way to really make a difference is to have people feel free to talk about their own issues with mental health and be open to talk to others about the same,” Ouellette said of the campaign.
As far as funding, such as what he presented on the day, Ouellette said that has been ongoing for the last five or six years and Bell will also be, as always, donating during Let’s Talk Day.
“Use any of our technology and we’ll be donating more,” he said. “Anytime somebody tweets, makes a phone call, does a Facebook posting, on that day, we’ll be donating five cents towards mental health initiatives, around the country.”
The release provides more details on the Jan. 31 donation set-up.
“Bell will donate five cents to Canadian mental health programs for each of these interactions on Jan. 31, at no extra cost to participants,” the release noted. “Every text message, mobile and long distance call made by Bell Canada, Bell Aliant and Bell MTS customers, [and] every tweet using #BellLetsTalk and Bell Let’s Talk Day video view.”
St. F.X. President Kent MacDonald was on-hand for the announcement and spoke with reporters afterwards.
“We know mental health is an issue in this community, across the province and country,” MacDonald said.
“At a university campus, where more than half of our students come from outside of the province, in other words they’re from away; we know they can be lonely. There are stresses that go along with life here at the university and we’re particularly aware that this is important for us to address and to do so in a very public way.
“The challenge we have is, although, we can be empathetic about supporting mental health issues, how is it that we are going to ensure we just don’t send someone to speak with someone, but that they actually speak with someone who knows the appropriate response, and are able to support the individual; if they be a student, staff or faculty member.
“That’s why this Bell Let’s Talk funding is so important because we’re going to be using that money in our mental health first aid training. It allows us to actually train people on this campus, to respond in an effective, timely and appropriate way, should someone disclose either issues related to mental health or have some type of attributes that reflect a mental health issue. I think, fundamentally, that is going to allow us to serve our broader community more effectively.”