UWaterloo community urges mental-health services reform

Monday, April 3, 2017

UWaterloo students hold signs to raise mental-health awareness.University of Waterloo students and staff gathered for a vigil on Friday, March 31, 2017 at the Student Life Centre to honour the lives of students lost to suicide and raise mental-health awareness.

Spurred by the death of first-year Chase Christopher Graham on March 20, political science student Nikki St. Clair initiated a petition for mental health. Backed by Lisa Huynh and Dia Rahman, the petition quickly gained over 15,000 signatures. From there, a vigil was arranged with the help of UWaterloo’s Chaplains to bring the community together to grieve. The 600 page petition urging a reassessment of UWaterloo’s mental health resources and policies was presented to Chris Read, Associate Provost Students at the vigil. Grebel’s ‘Sing for Health’ choir also offered a hymn of consolation at the gathering.

“Challenges to mental health affect all of us differently and very intensely whenever suicide is involved.  It is a trauma that jars the core of who we are individually and sends shock waves through our communities” said Ed Janzen, Grebel Chaplain. “Friday’s vigil was a moment for UW communities to pause and acknowledge the shock wave that hit our campus.  Such ritual is an essential part of restoring the spiritual health, social vitality and intellectual attention of our communities.”

University can be stressful and sometimes overwhelming, with full class schedules, multiple deadlines, social pressures, and being away from home. The Grebel community is prepared to assist in matters of academics, faith, relationships, and well-being. Students can always seek support from the Student Services team, dons, counselling services, upper-years, and each other. It just takes one conversation.

“The hugs and tears following the vigil showed a solidarity of care at the heart of our UW communities” reflected Janzen. “This is the core of building healthy, nurturing communities and it is our pledge.”

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