September 23, 2020

By SPENCER BEEBE
Conestoga Students Inc. recently invited students to learn more about mental health awareness by participating in the Yellow Umbrella Project.
The campaign was launched by the College Student Alliance (CSA), an organization that represents Canadian post-secondary students, and took place at more than a dozen colleges across Ontario. The weeklong event, held Oct. 28 to Nov. 1, tried to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health issues and raise awareness among post-secondary students.
At Conestoga’s Doon campus, outside the CSI office, tables and booths were set up all week and lined with informational pamphlets, cards and free yellow stress balls. CSI members were available to happily and enthusiastically answer questions and chat with students.
“It’s a weeklong campaign to teach about mental health and its impact on students,” said Jessica Gazca, a CSI representative. “We’re promoting awareness by asking students to write down what makes them happy.”
Notepad paper was provided for visitors to write on, and their words were pinned to two large yellow boards which, by the end of the week, had hundreds of happy thoughts from students – things such as their friends, pets, favourite television shows or even simple things like a nice cup of tea.
CSI president Jason Wright was excited about the success of the Yellow Umbrella Project at Conestoga, and hopes that it encourages students to take better care of their mental wellness.
“We’re here to talk about mental health issues, listen to people who suffer from them, and break the stigma behind mental health,” he said. “With mid-terms coming, students are not taking their stress as seriously as they should be.”
On Tuesday, CSI brought in a group of therapy puppies for students to meet and play with. The fuzzy friends were available from noon until 1 p.m.
“The best way to reduce stress? Pet a puppy,” Wright said.
According to the CSA’s website, www.collegestudentalliance.ca, the colour yellow was chosen because it is uplifting and illuminating, and offers hope, happiness and fun. The umbrella symbolizes shelter and warmth.
Students who are having problems with stress or other mental health issues in their lives should drop by Conestoga’s Counselling Services office located in Room 1A101 near the atrium.