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Photo and graphic by Allen Barnier.

A Well-being Workshop: Trent Active Minds' Movies For Mental Health

Written by
Allen Barnier
and
and
February 2, 2024
A Well-being Workshop: Trent Active Minds' Movies For Mental Health
Photo and graphic by Allen Barnier.

On January 26, 2024, Trent Active Minds led Movies for Mental Health, a collaborative workshop with Art With Impact. This was the group’s fourth time working with Art With Impact, and the first in-person event with the organization since 2017.

Amylyn Unelli, the President of Trent Active Minds, believes that events like these are able to take a complex topic like mental health, and deconstruct it in order to make it easier for students to take in.

The event cultivates an impactful, yet accessible, view on mental health through a media-based lens. 

“When combined with art, mental health can help break barriers, unite people, and destigmatize the conversation,” said Unelli of this important aspect of the workshop.

“It's not easy for a lot of students to seek out mental health resources or attend workshops. Even some events with the words ‘mental health’ can act as a deterrent,” said Unelli. “But events like [this] help alleviate some of this stigma by making the content and message more easily consumable and digestible.”

The societal expectation of constant productivity has caused an immense strain on mental wellbeing, which is proven by university students, who, as Unelli explained, “are often pushed to achieve academically, financially, and socially.” 

“We can’t just work and work without prioritizing ourselves and our well-being,” she continued.

Trent Active Minds is a student-led group that facilitates initiatives, training, and events on campus for students, with the goal of changing the conversation of mental health in young adults.

As for the event itself, queer poet and filmmaker, Chris Hyde, facilitated many important group discussions surrounding mental health, with topics ranging from media portrayals of mental illness to advocating for support within our own communities. 

Along with directing these incredibly valuable conversations, Hyde led various mindfulness exercises throughout the duration of the workshop, encouraging participants to be conscious of their own emotions.

The workshop housed the viewing of three short films from the 2023 Voices With Impact Film Festival—all depicting a relatable or eye-opening representation of mental health.

The first of these films was Fu Yang’s Fortune Cookie, a stop motion film on burnout. It was a beautiful animation on how the external expectation to sacrifice pieces of yourself can result in losing who you are.

Breech Asher Haram’s climate anxiety-focused Dreams of the Ravaged came next on the evening’s watchlist. This film was a live-action documentary about the impacts of typhoons on the mental health of residents across the Philippines, and a semi-animated view on the potential damages of climate change on the region’s natural beauty. It also provided insight on the pattern of natural disasters occurring in the Philippines, educating a number of audience members, including myself, on the issue.

Our third and final short film was Out Beyond by Salman Alam Khan, which portrays a teen’s experience with cultural expectations while living in a household that doesn’t understand or support your interests and goals. The story depicted the impact that external circumstances can have on one’s mental well-being, and the positive power of a genuine passion.

Student speaker, Hitika Somani opened the next segment of the event with an incredibly personal speech on her experience with grieving the loss of her best friend. She describes grief as a “multi-tasking emotion”—something that you never really heal from. Somani highlighted the difference between moving forward and moving on, and the challenges of guilt when it comes to grief.

The speaker panel also featured the Associate Vice President of Students at Trent, Lawrence Lam. Lam also instructs a variety of courses in Mental Health, and Suicide and Crisis Intervention Training.

Theresa Maybury, Health Educator, and Mental Health and Addictions Clinician at the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) took the last seat of the panel. She outlined the projects offered by the CMHA, and discussed the importance of self-referral-based services in accessing mental health supports. More information about specific initiatives offered by the CMHA is available here.

Participants were then given the opportunity to ask panelists questions about their experiences or mental health in general.

To conclude the workshop, Trent Active Minds gave out freebies and hosted a couple of giveaways—one of which I just so happened to win (I pinkie promise that the digital wheel spinner involved was not rigged).

A main goal of this student organization is to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health by setting up open conversations—and this workshop succeeded at doing just that.

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How to customize formatting for each rich text

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