“I’m struggling with my mental health and I feel like I’m alone in this” is a phrase that over 71 % of post-secondary students feel on a daily basis (McMaster University, 2019). Last year, Mental Health Peer Educators from the Student Wellness Centre (SWC) supported students in feeling less alone by providing an outlet for students to discuss their mental health struggles. They organized a campaign called MacSecrets: an anonymous online survey where members of McMaster community sent in their struggles, thoughts, emotions, coping mechanisms, and ways to practice self-care. This initiative collected submissions throughout November 2019.
When the anonymous MacSecrets survey was still open, the Mental Health Peer Educators hosted several tabling events around campus. They told the McMaster community about the campaign, as well as SWC’s recent relocation from MUSC Basement to PGCLL 2nd floor and what services were still available at SWC.
On November 28th, 2019, the collective MacSecrets responses were artistically displayed in the new Student Wellness Lounge (PGCLL 210) for a destressor event. Attendees could view the submissions and discuss the themes that emerged while playing board games and eating snacks. The submissions reflected a great degree of transparency and vulnerability. For example, many students mentioned the stresses of schoolwork, maintaining a balanced life, and finding their place in the McMaster community.
While the event may have passed, the conversation certainly does not have to! We hope that we can continue to start conversations within the McMaster community. By sharing the compilation of responses below, we hope to spark compassion and contribute to a caring community at McMaster.
If you, or anyone you know, are looking for support in what you are going through, we encourage you to reach out to someone in your life who is supportive or is someone you trust. We also encourage you to utilize the services offered on and around campus. The SWC is one place on campus that is able to provide support for personal or mental health concerns through counselling services.
Written by: Breanna Nelson and Simrandeep Kalsi
Edited by: Bonnie Liu
McMaster University. (2019). National College Health Assessment Report 2019 (pp. 5-7, Rep.). Hamilton.