Introducing The RSGSU Mental Health Committee

Mar 17, 2020

Mental Health in Grad School: RSGSU Connects Students to Build Resilience

The RSGSU Mental Health Committee held their first event titled “Food & Friends” on Wednesday, February 19th, 2020 and it was a major hit!

The idea for the event came directly from the results of the committee’s December 2019 survey. The survey was sent to all RSI students with the aim of collecting data around their specific mental health needs. The survey found that most respondents have been experiencing mental health challenges as a result of grad school, with the top five stressors being: finances, career planning, imposter syndrome, comparison to peers, and poor work-life balance. When asked what types of mental health support they would like greater access to, respondents most commonly reported: counselling services, support in managing work-life balance, and resource lists. In terms of the types of mental health events that RSI students are interested in, the top three reported were: coffee/lunch meetings with peers, exercise-based events, and lecture-style workshops.

Based on this #1 request from RSI students, the committee organized Food & Friends to provide students with the opportunity to connect with peers and discuss mental health matters over lunch. The event focused on sharing experiences and strategies for stress management and work-life balance. There was a great turn out, honest discussion, and an exchange of tangible strategies to help manage grad school stressors.

Two attendees shared their reflections on the event:

“The event allowed me to share my struggles and thoughts of self-doubt in grad school with my peers in a supportive and positive environment. Expressing these feelings and having my friends validate my experiences while sharing tips about coping was very enlightening!

"I was so surprised to see that my peers shared my feelings of stress in response to the high academic expectations of grad school. It was an eye-opening experience to witness my peers with a certain kind of vulnerability. As academics, we are often too fearful to be vulnerable, but I think it served to actually draw us closer together and build a collective feeling of resilience."

The RSGSU Mental Health Committee thanks those who came out to support the initiative and challenge the stigma around mental health!

If you are interested in learning more about the RSGSU Mental Health Committee, please contact: rsgsu.mentalhealthcommittee@gmail.com.