Mon, 2020/02/03 - 1:02pm
Let’s THRIVE Week officially kicks off today with a focus on mental health awareness and well-being, as well as encouraging an open dialogue about mental health.
Initiated by the OVC THRIVE (Teaching Healthy Resilience in the Veterinary Environment) student club at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College (OVC), the mental health awareness week is now in its fourth year.
OVC THRIVE is built on three main goals: to create an open and accepting culture regarding mental health; to encourage students to prioritize self-care; and to provide tangible resources to help students build resilience and support good mental well-being.
Students throughout the Ontario Veterinary College are encouraged to participate in activities throughout the week – this year from February 3 to 7, 2020.
"Let's THRIVE Week occurs at a key time in the academic year when our students have many challenges facing them; ongoing coursework and assessments, waning financial resources, the winter season, reestablishing routine after the holidays, and added stressors of finding summer employment or living accommodations, all of which can further impact mental wellbeing.,” says Prof. Joanne Hewson, OVC Associate Dean, Students and Academic. “Let's THRIVE Week serves as a valuable reminder to everyone in the OVC Community to maintain their well-being as a priority, and underscores the fact that our College and the University of Guelph recognize the need to keep this conversation active all the time. Through the support and expertise of Student Wellness Services for several of the Let's THRIVE Week activities, we also ensure that collectively we stay strong in facing this shared challenge to our everyday lives. We hope our undergraduate and graduate students, interns, as well as faculty and staff, will engage in this week as much as possible.”
“Student wellness services is pleased to continue this collaboration with OVC to raise awareness of the importance of mental health,” notes Melanie Bowman, Manager, Wellness Education & Promotion, Student Wellness.
The Wellness Education & Promotion, Student Wellness provides ongoing support, education and training in the area of mental wellbeing. For more info about student wellness services or to learn how to access their services please access the Student Wellness website.
THRIVE club president, Emilija Penney, OVC Class of 2022, and fellow club members have planned a full slate of activities for the week, kicking off with the distribution of a mental health resource kit to all of the students in OVC’s Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program, OVC graduate and DVSc students, as well as interns in the OVC Health Sciences Centre.
Along with a schedule for the week and a quick reference card listing available mental health resources provided by the University of Guelph and veterinary associations, the kit includes a reusable cutlery kit, all in a sustainable, reusable bag that can be used to store produce. The kit is sponsored by VCA Canada, OVC Pet Trust and the Ontario Veterinary College.
The reusable produce bag and reusable cutlery kit offer an opportunity to bring in other dimensions of wellness, such as sustainability and the environment, notes Penney.
First up on this year’s schedule is a session of Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) with new OVC counselor Dianna Chinnery. ACT combines mindfulness skills with the practice of self-acceptance, a tool that Penney thinks students will find useful. The ACT session also counts towards students’ continuing professional development, one of the assignments within the Art of Veterinary Medicine. Both Chinnery and Bruno Mancini, counsellors with the University of Guelph’s Department of Student Wellness, are available to OVC students for counselling services.
New this year is a comedy night with OVC alumni Dr. Ted Morris, OVC DVM 2001, and Dr. Sarah Boston, OVC DVM 2004, two OVC alumni and stand-up comedians who use the stage as a way of discussing mental health. Comedy Night with Veterinarians takes place on Thursday, February 6 at 6:30 p.m. in the OVC cafeteria.
An Action Board craft night, on Tuesday, February 4, also has been added to the mix this year as a tool to help create and focus on achieving goals.
In creating the action boards participants include certain goals they are hoping to attain in the next year or more, using whatever timeline they wish, says Penney. “It is a nice way of looking forward and provides people with a reminder of their goals as they move forward.”
Returning this year is an evening discussion panel with OVC alumni, faculty and students who will share their unique experiences with mental health fostering an environment of open dialogue and support surrounding mental health. The evening discussion panel is set for Wednesday, February 5 in PAHL 1800 starting at 6:30 p.m.
Also returning this year is the popular Curling Bonspiel night on Friday, February 7, a night off to allow OVC students a chance to learn and play curling.
Throughout the week students, staff and faculty are also invited to share (either anonymously or not) their personal experiences with mental health on the One Voice Come Together wall to help open up the conversation and demonstrate that mental health affects more people than you may expect. The One Voice Come Together wall is supported by the OVMA Insurance Program.
Support was received from, VCA Canada, OVMA Insurance Program, Omega Tau Sigma - Delta Chapter Professional Veterinary Fraternity, OVC Pet Trust and Ontario Veterinary College.