Addressing mental health issues is vital to the wellbeing of a community. Mental illness impacts all of us, directly or through a friend, family member or co-worker, and it is important to change the conversation about it in a way that benefits everyone. On Wednesday, January 27th, St. Mary’s University is proud to support #BellLetsTalk in an effort to continue to help raise awareness for mental health.

2349Philip Taylor-Smith, a student at St. Mary’s, has shared his personal experiences with mental illness and is a powerful voice for mental health on campus. In March 2016, he will be joining some of the best and brightest young leaders from universities, colleges and high schools across Canada at the Jack Summit. The Jack Summit is held in Toronto and is Canada’s only national student-led mental health innovation summit. This student-led movement seeks to change the way we think and talk about mental health.

Learning, acknowledging and accepting his experience, he looks forward to attending the Summit where he will meet other students speaking out about mental health and the stigma surrounding it. During this three day conference he will have an opportunity to learn about other students’ experiences with mental health. He hopes to bring back to St. Mary’s ideas to create events on campus that will allow more students to be aware of the different mental health issues that students across Canada are facing.

Many students do not know how to seek help, and many more may not understand how to talk about mental health. Philip hopes to start a Jack chapter at St. Mary’s so that an open dialogue can take place around mental health. He also hopes to add to the already existing supports on campus by organizing future events that aim to educate students, faculty and staff on the importance of ending the stigma.

On campus, St. Mary’s University has many health related resources available to students such as a campus counselor who students can meet with, Tuesday meditation classes, a Sacred Space open to everyone, events such as group fitness that promote a healthy lifestyle, an Exercise Is Medicine On Campus Committee, and a monthly event called Café Conversations that highlights and engages students, faculty and staff in issues like mental health. No two cases of mental illness are identical so it is important to create a safe place for everyone to share their experiences and find ways to cope and live their lives to the fullest capacity.

By changing the way we think about mental health we help those living with mental illness become empowered to take control of their life. Students, staff and faculty are invited to join the conversation online and learn more about ending the stigma at

To learn more about the Jack Summit and Philip’s efforts to raise awareness and funds to end mental health stigma, please visit: