Photo Credit: Sheila Eaton, University of St. Michael’s College
The new vision for wellness at St. Mike’s
Emily VanBerkum-Farahat, Contributor
As the new Manager of Community Wellness, a registered social worker, and a proud USMC alumna, I am privileged to return to my alma mater with the goal of making a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of our diverse community.
SMC Wellness, part of the Office of the Dean of Students, has a mission rooted in St. Michael’s College’s strategic plan to prioritize the wellness of all community members by nurturing the development of the whole person. As multifaceted individuals, our wellbeing is shaped by the environment in which we live, study, work, and play. It is helpful to consider wellness not as a fixed state, but a dynamic, ongoing process of establishing habits and behaviours to support our health and happiness. SMC Wellness strives to foster a dialogue about this pursuit of multidimensional health, as well as promote engaging programming to destigmatize help-seeking and enhance mental health literacy.
This year, SMC Wellness is piloting opportunities for mental health education and conversation. Among these are an evening of personal stories shared by peer mental health advocates in a “Jack Talk” and dinner on World Mental Health Day (October 10), monthly therapy dog visits, a creative art series, Wellness Week (October 10–13), and Grow Week (October 23–27) featuring a workshop to impart practical coping strategies for managing anxiety and imposter syndrome.
In addition to wellness-based programming and individual counselling, St. Mike’s students can now book an appointment with me for resource navigation. These informal, confidential, one-on-one sessions are available by appointment or on a drop-in basis every Monday. Students will receive personalized recommendations and resources for co-identified wellness needs, and assistance in connecting with supports offered by U of T, or referrals to community-based services. Navigation appointments offer support for a wide array of common student needs including skill-building to manage stress/anxiety, concerns related to academic success, relationship issues, social isolation, food insecurity, gender-based violence, and more.
Through inter-departmental collaboration, SMC Wellness strives to equip students with the tools, strategies, and habits they need to enhance mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. As a recent student myself, I am dedicated to a deeply relational, person-centered, and strengths-based approach to creating a “culture of care” on our campus. Wherever you are on your wellness journey, I am committed to helping you find a place of belonging at St. Mike’s, and to providing you with personalized support to foster and strengthen your unique state of wellbeing.
*Did you know? The St. Michael’s College Student Union is hosting a mental health town hall on Friday, October 13 (5:00–7:00pm in the Coop). Come out to add your voice to the conversation and help shape mental health services and wellness programming on the SMC campus.