St. Lawrence College Students Support Community Mental Health

Krystine Therriault - Seaway News
St. Lawrence College Students Support Community Mental Health
R to L: Tori Arnett, president of Cornwall campus' student union; Glenn Vollebregt, president and CEO of St. Lawrence College, and Richard Wiggers, Dean of Cornwall Campus and Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies and Pathways standing next to the tree, boulder, and plaque dedicated to student mental health awareness. (Photo : Krystine Therriault/Cornwall Seaway News)

Many schools have stories of students who lost battles with mental illness, and our local college is no different.

To commemorate those who lost their lives and prevent such tragedies from happening in the future, leaders in the Cornwall campus’ student union organized a beautiful tribute and put together a document to ensure students always know where help is available if they need it.

A brief dedication ceremony was held at the Cornwall campus last week for an oak tree planted this summer next to the waterfront trail that runs along the campus. Beside the tree is a boulder with a plaque in memory of students who have lost their lives, as well as a reminder to seek help if needed.

St. Lawrence College President and CEO, Glenn Vollebregt, was present for the ceremony.

“We gather today to mark the important work that is being done for the saddest of reasons. I’m inspired by the respect and empathy shown by our student leaders and our entire student community. Not just today, but on an ongoing basis,” he said. “As you will see, the SLC Cornwall Student Union has taken a very important step towards improving access to mental health support that I am confident will make a difference.”

Tori Arnett, president of Cornwall campus’ student union, was proud to share that her team recently finished putting together a document containing 565 references to mental health programs, resources, and services.

“As the president of the Cornwall student union, I am saddened, humbled, and honored to spearhead projects such as this. The fact that they are needed is tragic, but I find optimism in the hopes that it’s going to protect future students and families,” she said, “With the help of my team, I’ve created a document for the students that’s available on our website and can be accessed by any member of the community outside of St. Lawrence College.”

Given the diversity of students on campus, the team gathered resources from Toronto to Montreal and Ottawa to Akwesasne. They also placed a focus on the communities of Cornwall, Brockville, and Kingston, where SLC campuses are located. Despite being made for and by students, this free document is available to anyone. While some services in the document are paid, many are free.

Richard Wiggers, Dean of Cornwall Campus and Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies and Pathways, gave a statement on behalf of staff and faculty. He first acknowledged that SLC staff have indeed noticed a higher need for mental health supports in the last few years in wake of the pandemic.

“People need help to handle everything that’s on their plate,” Wickers stated, “Whether that’s family or financial pressures, studies, volunteer and other commitments, you name it. And there’s nothing wrong with needing help, which is why the more conversations we have and the more visibility we can bring to the simple fact that we all need help sometimes, the better.”

“As students I hope if you take anything from today its this: to please, look around you, not only within your own peer group but reach out to anyone who you think may need help. Someone may be struggling with their mental health from school or may be having a difficult time at home. Offering some support or simply providing them with an ear to talk to may be the thing that quite literally saves them. I sincerely believe that if we work together, tomorrow is a possibility for everyone,” Tori concluded.

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