On campus

Destigmatizing mental health fuels student success at Seneca

Event organized by students sheds light on an important issue, thanks to alumni support

February 14, 2024

Michael Landsberg, an award-winning broadcaster and the former host of TSN’s Off the Record, is an advocate for mental health and he brought his message to Seneca Polytechnic this summer as part of a one-day event to raise awareness.

Mr. Landsberg has battled anxiety and depression for years and in 2016 he launched a charity called Sick Not Weak to address the stigma around the illness.

“We’ve been talking about this stigma for decades. It keeps people quiet. It keeps them in the closet. It makes them feel shame,” Mr. Landsberg said. “I want to try and change that.”

He was one of five speakers at the Seneca Talks: Mental Health Matters event, organized by 31 students from the Sports, Entertainment & Event Marketing (SEM) program.

“This event brings awareness to mental health, anxiety and depression,” said SEM student Julie Giannantonio. “It’s important to students because a lot of us deal with it on a daily basis.”

In fact, one in three Canadians will be affected by a mental illness during their lifetime, according to government statistics. However, only one in seven will use health services to get help.

“This event brings awareness to mental health, anxiety and depression. It’s important to students because a lot of us deal with it on a daily basis”

The event explored the connection between performance pressures and mental well-being and highlighted the importance of self-care.

About 75 people attended the in-person event and 45 watched the live stream, which also featured presentations from Ben Meisner, Goalie with Germany’s Ravensburg Towerstars hockey team; Tychon Carter-Newman, Motivational Speaker and the first Black winner of the Big Brother Canada reality TV series; Venky Rao, Psychotherapist, Senior Manager, Personal Counselling Services, Seneca; and Mishka Blacker, Mental Performance Consultant, Canadian Sport Psychology.

SEM students organized the six-hour event on July 26 as part of the hands-on learning component of their program. They arranged everything from the speakers and catering to marketing. They also secured sponsorship through the Seneca Alumni Affinity Program, which supports student-oriented activities.

The event was made possible by a dedicated group of students, faculty and presenters, including (left to right): Anna Fernanda Uriegas, Emily Pietrkiewicz, Mishka Blacker, Tychon Carter-Newman, David Stein, Michael Landsberg, Nikhil Monteiro, Nancy Bodi, Seyedehmahshid (Mahshid) Torabibafghi, Venky Rao and Donne Henry.

Nancy Bodi, Professor and Program Co-ordinator, SEM, said it was a valuable experience and that she appreciated the generous support of alumni.

“These students are about to graduate and this sponsorship generates goodwill and positive associations with alumni,” Ms. Bodi said. “Alumni is generous to support such an important topic.”

Barry Naymark, Manager, Alumni Relations, said the funding enables the organization to support important experiential learning opportunities.

“We are proud to offer partnerships that enhance our students’ education and help them succeed as they transition to the workforce,” Mr. Naymark said.

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