Slim turnout at mental health forum

Attendance at forum shows mental health issues are ‘not cool anymore,’ student says

Photo: 
Members of the Principal’s commission on mental health listen to speakers at the student forum held on Wednesday.
Members of the Principal’s commission on mental health listen to speakers at the student forum held on Wednesday.
Photo: 

Fourth-year student Julia Zulver says mental health has lost its popularity on campus.

She was one of 30 people to attend a forum hosted by the Principal’s commission on mental health. The room had been prepared for around 75.

On Wednesday night in the Robert Sutherland room, attendees were encouraged to voice opinions on mental health issues on campus.

Zulver said students didn’t appear in large numbers because mental health isn’t an issue that is well-known enough to support. She added that Queen’s Wears Green — a mental health campaign run by Commerce students in October — didn’t accomplish its goal of raising awareness.

“Queen’s Wears Green was supposed to be this huge awareness campaign and change the way mental health was seen on campus as well as reduce the stigma,” Zulver, ArtSci ’12, said.

“What good has been done? People wore T-shirts and the shirts have gone away and now it’s not cool anymore and that’s why there are no students here.”

The commission on mental health was launched last September.

Despite there being few students present at Wednesday’s forum, Zulver and her sister said the commission is a positive start.

“There’s an incredible platform for this commission to make change,” Catherine Zulver, ArtSci ’14, who wrote an opinion piece for the Journal regarding the campaign, said. “This is a constructive event but it has the power to do a lot more.”

The majority of attendees at the forum were Health, Counseling and Disability Services (HCDS) staff and Queen’s administrators, while less than half of the audience included students.

The chair of the commission, David Walker, is the former dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences.

He said he felt the forum was still useful, despite the low student attendance.

“To actually hear and watch face to face the stories of people, their concerns and advice that they have is profoundly useful,” he said. “We may have more [forums], because it is so important to hear what people have to say.”

Walker said the commission has met every Wednesday since its launch and has received varied comments.

“From academic obstacles to the need for a balanced lifestyle and teaching student’s life skills, we’ve received a lot of input,” he said.

Recommendations from the commission are due to be given to Principal Daniel Woolf in April. Following this, the commission will disband.

“We haven’t started the report yet, and we’re slightly worried about that, we have a lot in our heads and on paper and electronically,” Walker said. “We will have a framework approach to this that will allow the Principal and the University to consider what we will be recommending.”

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.