Mental health at forefront of Broncos games

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Jordan Slade, a student-athlete at Olds College, knows all about the importance of mental wellness.

His father is a firefighter; his mother, a nurse — two high-stress jobs that can fray even the most impervious psyche.

“You read the news and you hear about accidents, you hear about death and you know they were at those particular calls and scenes. You just see the wear and tear on them,” said Slade, a member of the Broncos golf team.

“That’s why I always stand up for this cause, because of them.”

The Broncos participated in the Make Some Noise for Mental Health campaign last week. It’s a joint-effort between the ACAC and Canadian Mental Health Association’s Alberta Division to reduce stigma related to mental illness and to promote mental wellness on campuses.

“It’s to provide a venue to get people talking about it and break the stigma of discussing mental health issues,” said Stephen Anthony, men’s basketball coach and the Broncos’ marketing and communications coordinator.

“For us, it’s to make students aware of what’s available to them and not to feel alone or in the dark. There is help and support for them and they don’t have to be afraid of reaching out to get the help that they require.”

The SAIT Trojans started the campaign last year and won a CCAA Community Service Award.

There are a number of resources available to Olds College students: doctors, nurses, counseling services and even campus yoga.

Residence assistants receive training for coping skills and how to identify potential mental health issues. They and residence staff connect students with professional help.

Social events held on campus aim to prevent student isolation. Some include game nights, movies, bingo and sleigh rides.

As well, efforts are underway to create groups for LGBTQ students.

Slade follows his parents’ example and makes sure he takes time for himself when he’s feeling the pressure of being a student.

“I have to find different ways to combat stress. For me, that’s watching every single sporting event I can, listening to music,” he said.

The transition from high school to college can be difficult for first-year students, Anthony said.

As a coach, that’s why he tries to instill a supportive team culture through activities like study halls.

“For me, it’s always making sure the feel of the team is like family.”

jho@olds.greatwest.ca

“For us, it’s to make students aware of what’s available to them and not to feel alone or in the dark. There is help and support for them and they don’t have to be afraid of reaching out to get the help that they require.” STEPHEN ANTHONY, men’s basketball coach

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