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Laurier generates mental health conversation with unveiling of friendship bench

570 NEWS - Erin Anderson

A new bench at Wilfrid Laurier aims to raise awareness about mental health, and help tackle the stigmas surrounding it.

Students from the campus club, Bridging the Gap, who champion mental health around the school came together and unveiled the bright yellow friendship bench on Wednesday afternoon.

Dean of Students, Leanne Holland Brown, says the bench serves as such a great reminder that help is right around the corner. “It is down this hallway and if that’s not the right support then let’s find another support, let’s talk about a different service that is good for you. I think we can’t have too many reminders for students that we care about them, that we care about their success and recognize that it’s not always easy.”

The Laurier Friendship Bench aims to encourage student-to-student conversations about mental health while promoting campus support resources. It is also part of a mental health initiative created by the family of Lucas Fiorella, a 19-year-old student at Carleton University who died by suicide in 2014.

The bright yellow bench is a visual reminder that there are support resources on campus available and Holland Brown says it’s also one of the greatest challenges. “Just making sure that the communication piece helping students to connect with the resources that are available, helping to make them aware of all the different resources, and so that is something that we really engage our student leaders like, Bridging the Gap, in those conversations to say, ‘how can we best communicate to students and make them aware of the multitude of resources available.'”

The bench is located in Laurier’s foyer connecting the Paul Martin Centre and the Wellness Centre.

More than 30 Lucas Fiorella Memorial Friendship Benches exist on high school and post-secondary campuses across Canada.