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Focus is on mental well-being during Let’s THRIVE Week

Dog in snow with OVC THRIVE Club kit materialsThe focus is firmly on mental health awareness and well-being as Let’s THRIVE Week kicks off today.

Now in its third year, the mental health awareness week was initiated by the OVC THRIVE (Teaching Healthy Resilience in the Veterinary Environment) student club at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College.  The week's activities are planned around #Bellletstalk Day to help highlight the importance of self-care, well-being and an open dialogue about mental health.

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.

“Let’s THRIVE week is a wonderful opportunity to focus on and highlight the importance of mental health and well-being,” says Dr. Joanne Hewson, Associate Dean, Students and Academic. “It’s an incredibly important initiative and I thank everyone who has been involved in organizing and supporting the activities throughout this week. I hope everyone grows from Let’s THRIVE Week, and takes away some skills and resources that support resilience throughout the rest of the year and also everyday into their future.” 

The week begins with distribution of a mental health resource kit to all of the students in the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program, all OVC graduate and DVSc students, as well as interns in the OVC Health Sciences Centre. 

OVC student veterinarians holding OVC THRIVE Club kits(Left to right) Emilija Penney, OVC Class of 2022 and OVC THRIVE Club vice president; Heather Bauman, OVC Class of 2022 and OVC THRIVE Club Financial Outreach & Creative Activities Coordinator; Cassandra Gorrill, OVC Class of 2021 and OVC THRIVE Club president.

The kit includes a quick reference card listing available mental health resources provided by the University of Guelph and veterinary associations, a schedule with the list of the events for the week, a sunshine hot/cold pack, a PRIDE button and a handy notebook and pen. The kit is sponsored by VCA Canada, OVC Pet Trust and the Ontario Veterinary College.

DVM and graduate students are encouraged to participate in activities throughout Let’s THRIVE week. 

This year’s THRIVE club president, Cassandra Gorrill, OVC Class of 2021, has been working with fellow club members on a full slate of activities throughout the week, including:

  • Return of the highly successful Paint Nite event providing an opportunity to socialize and exercise creativity.
  • A mental health panel where DVM students from each year and faculty discuss their personal experiences with mental health struggles and how they have worked towards recovery.
  • Ashtanga yoga on Tuesday and Thursday morning.
  • A curling bonspiel to encourage physical activity, teamwork, and stress relief. The bonspiel is supported by the OTS Fraternity.
  • A lunch time wellness session offered by Dr. Marie Holowaychuk. A specialist in small animal emergency and critical care, Holowaychuk travels worldwide to work as a speaker, consultant, and locum and regularly facilitates Veterinary Wellness Workshops and Retreats for veterinary care providers. The wellness session is supported by the Bob Curtis OVC ’67 Wellness Travel Fund and the Class of OVC 1980 Mental Health Fund. (Dr. Holowaychuk will also offer a wellness session to faculty, graduate students, alumni, clinicians and staff on Tuesday, January 29 in the evening and a session for graduate students, interns and residents on Wednesday January 30 in the morning. Find more information here.)
  • 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 the Bob Curtis OVC ’67 Wellness Travel Fund, the Class of OVC 1980 Mental Health Fund, VCA Canada, OVMA Insurance Program, Omega Tau Sigma - Delta Chapter Professional Veterinary Fraternity, OVC Pet Trust and Ontario Veterinary College.

Follow along at Instagram @OVC.THRIVE and and share your story using #LetsThrive.

Graduate students should pick up their resource kit from their Graduate Program Assistants.
Biomedical Sciences – Christina Voll (
Clinical Studies, Master of Public Health and Population Medicine – Ariah Easley
Pathobiology - Jessie Beer (
Interns – Victoria Wentzell, Health Sciences Centre (