On Wednesday, January 17 students from St. Mary’s University joined members of the St. Mary’s Lightning athletics teams to participate in a campaign to help generate awareness for mental health issues.

Make Some Noise for Mental Health is an Alberta Colleges Athletics Conference (ACAC) initiative to promote mental health awareness with the goal to help break the stigma surrounding mental health on campuses by encouraging conversation and open mindedness.

For Nathan Ruff, St. Mary’s University Lightning Men’s Basketball coach and Sports Manager, the Make Some Noise Campaign is an important step in highlighting that there are resources available to those affected by mental health issues.

“By us speaking about mental health issues and having an event does wonders for all people on the campus to help shine some light and break down some of those barriers surrounding mental health,” said Ruff.

According to Ruff, initiatives such as Make Some Noise or Bell Let’s Talk Day go a long way to helping to highlight the resources available to those in need and help alleviate some of the stress or discomfort that comes with expressing mental health issues.

“Knowing that there’s somebody here on campus helps to develop a level of comfort,” said Ruff. “That we have a wonderful support network here on campus – we have counselling services, we have people that are here to listen and here to help, and by having events like Make Some Noise or Bell Let’s Talk Day can help ease the weight on your mind by being able to talk through it.”

While it is great having days dedicated to dealing with mental health issues, Ruff understands that it is important to keep these issues in the forefront and continuing to increase the conversation surrounding mental health.

“We must continue to invite discussion and openness,” said Ruff. “We must continue to bring awareness to the support that we have here on campus for students, faculty and staff and how we can assist in listening when people have things they need to say.”

Ruff highlights the amazing staff in Counselling Services as a phenomenal resource for members of the St. Mary’s community.

“Sometimes taking that first step is the hardest thing a person can do but there are people on campus who are here and ready to help.”