The Kaleidoscope welcomes all students
By Aaron Guillen, Staff Reporter
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, one in five Canadians will experience mental illness, in one form or another, within their lifetime. For most post-secondary students, the mere thought of balancing the day-to-day stresses of school, work, and a social life bears a heavy weight on their shoulders.
Depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, and addictions collectively fall into the category of mental illnesses. Research completed on college campuses by the National Alliance on Mental Illness concluded that 40 per cent of students avoid seeking assistance, 50 per cent are anxious about struggling in school, and 80 per cent feel burdened by their number of responsibilities.
At Douglas College, a helping hand—in the form of a support group—is available for students who feel overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of the world. The Kaleidoscope is a mental health support group running at UBC and Douglas with the goal of helping students by talking about their struggles in a safe and nurturing environment.
Lia Hart, co-facilitator of the Kaleidoscope, and her work partner, Drew Webber, provided some insight and depth to the conversation around mental health.
Webber, the assistant coach of Douglas’ Men’s volleyball team, has dealt first-hand with symptoms of a mental health condition through his 20s. He hasn’t let his struggles get the best of him, as he hopes to one day become a teacher. Additionally, he hopes to put his writing skills to good use by writing books on the side. He loves the conversations that take place during the meetings.
“I’ve learned to take on a new perspective on life which allows me to lead a fuller life,” said Webber. “I value growth and learning more, and I think that attitude is more meaningful then any material advancement, and hence a success story.”
Hart, a former UBC graduate, is proud of the group’s inclusive and understanding environment, which helps further the recovery process for many attendees. Hart has seen her fair share of success stories. Hart’s personal success story includes being forced into hospital care, living in a group home, being supported back into post-secondary studies, and successfully completing them.
“I had to be open to new ways of healing, and helping others is part of my recovery and well-being,” she noted.
Every day, Hart and Webber work to dispel the misunderstandings around mental illness. There is undoubtedly a stigma around mental health issues, due to the fear of someone else’s behaviour being affected by mental unstableness—part of the reason the group is called Kaleidoscope: the name comes from the idea of having a multitude of perspectives.
“You are not alone,” added Hart. “There is support available. You can still live a rich and meaningful life to a point where your mental hardships make your life fuller.”
Meetings take place at the New West Campus every Wednesday from 1–2 p.m. in Boardroom 207, unless otherwise noted.