Dog Days help with student stress
SAITSA working to improve mental health on campus
In an effort to help relieve student stress, SAITSA has once again brought Dog Days to campus.
Dog Days is a monthly event in which the Pet Access League Society (PALS) brings dogs and their owners to SAIT, with the intent of offering students a much needed break during their otherwise busy school days.
Held at the student support center in the Senator Burns building this month, the event is very popular with many students lining up outside, waiting for a chance to pet and play with the dogs.
“It’s definitely something to look forward to,” said Stefani Viste, a SAIT student in the civil engineering technology program who had just finished playing with the animals. “We were looking forward to it for weeks.”
Hilger Fast, one of the PALS volunteers, brought his dog, Fuzzy Butt, a golden retriever.
“She’s very food motivated,” said Fast. “If you have food, you’ve got a friend for life.”
Most of the planning for these events is done by SAITSA’s VP of student life, Thao Nguyen.
“It creates that sense of relief and helps the students de-stress,” said Nguyen.
SAITSA has helped bring PALS to campus for three years as part of a larger mental health initiative.
SAITSA has been working in partnership with the Alberta Campus Mental Health and Innovation Fund (ACMHI), which has provided SAIT with $130,000 over three years to support mental health events, as well as general awareness of issues.
Wellness Wednesdays, a weekly event that provides many free services to students at SAIT, is one such event supported by the funds provided by ACMHI.
Among the services offered are free breakfasts in the morning, free yoga classes in the afternoon, and every other week, free massages.
For the massages, SAITSA brings in students from Makami College, Alberta’s largest massage therapy school.
“Free massages has been the most amazing partnership with Makami College,” said Nguyen. “It brings in the very fun activity, and has been widely accepted at SAIT.”
In her role for SAITSA, Nguyen has a wide range of duties, from helping students with financial aid, to working on suicide prevention initiatives.
“It covers a lot of different things. Not just mental health, which I work on a lot, but also diversity and multiculturalism.”
Nguyen has formed a mental health committee for SAIT. The committee, made up of representatives from SAITSA, the Trojans, Chinook Lodge and many other groups on campus, meets every month to discuss mental health issues facing students.
“With this committee, it brings us together and gets us to know what others are doing, and helps us find ways to support each other,” said Nguyen.
It’s also to work on programs for the future, as well to make sure we are using each others resources.”
As of now, SAIT does not have any policies or procedures dealing with mental health, only general health issues, according to Nguyen.
“If this becomes an official committee at SAIT campus, any policy, procedures or strategic plans related to mental health that they are developing, SAIT will have to abide to [the decisions of the committee], and have to make it official for the whole of SAIT operations.”
Nguyen suggested she does feel that SAIT is working hard on developing programs to deal with mental health issues and that improvements are not far off.
“I do believe that SAIT and SAITSA work very hard together to make sure students are being successful. That partnership is very valuable to the students, and we need to basically nurture it more.”
Retrieved from the Weal, written by Justin Schellenberg.