January 29 was the annual Bell Let’s Talk Day. This day is an opportunity to start conversations surrounding mental health and try to end the stigma around these issues.

Photo by Quuens Alumni (Flickr)

As part of the events organized for this day, the non-profit local organization Mind of Mine put up their second annual Let’s Talk Day Forum. This event brings together various experts in the community to start conversations surrounding different aspects of mental health.

The event took place in the EME building at 7 p.m. The speakers for the night were Barbara Egan, a registered clinical counsellor, who talked about social media and mental health; Dr. Lesley Lutes who talked about enhancing your well-being; and PhD students in the clinical psychology program, Myfanwy Bakkar and Stefanie Ciszewski, whose talk was about resiliency.

All these conversations are extremely important because they touch on aspects that are an inherent part of our current culture. The one that stuck to me the most was Dr. Lutes’ talk, because she challenged the current discourse surrounding mental health. She pointed out that at this moment, Canada is suffering its poorest physical and mental health condition in history. This has to do with how society is approaching well-being as an absence of disease, rather than a holistic state of happiness.

Dr. Lesley Lutes - Photo by Andrea Marie Tan

Dr. Lutes’ research looks at tested ways in which we can all increase our happiness, and thus, our well-being. Things like values, goal setting, appreciating personal strengths, gratitude, and random acts of kindness, are all ways in which we ensure a better quality of life and state of mind. The talk ended in a hopeful note with Dr. Lutes talking about her initiative to make psychologists part of the Primary Care Network in Kelowna.

After the talks were done, using Slido, the audience had a chance to ask questions and start a panel discussion with the speakers. Later, attendees got to choose between two available workshops: What to do, What to Say, What not to Say, and The Well of Self-care and Building Your Toolkit. These were more hands-on and provided practical strategies to support someone with a mental health issue and practice self-care.

All in all, it was a great night that started extremely important conversations surrounding mental health stigma. UBCO is looking forward to next year’s Mind of Mine Forum!