Loading articles...

UW students stand up for mental health through #WaterlooWalkout

Last Updated Mar 8, 2018 at 4:27 pm EDT

570 NEWS - Erin Anderson

Students at the University of Waterloo stood up for mental health, and walked out of the classroom on Thursday.

The move was part of the Waterloo Walkout for Mental Health, which made a call for better supports and services on campus.

Organizers hope the rally will urge UW to quote – “provide sufficient mental health resources to ALL students now.” The response comes after a student tragically died by suicide earlier this week.

Kai Butterfield led the gathering in the Arts Quad at 11 a.m.

She says something needs to change, as there are currently only 22 counsellors for over 36,000 students.

“By walking out of our classroom today – we remove our consent. We do not consent to insufficient mental health services. We do not consent to a harmful brand. We do not consent to practices and narratives that do not affirm life.”

Butterfield adds that post-secondary school is usually a difficult, stressful time – but many students entered UW knowing that education requires hard-work and sacrifice.

“But we were not prepared to sacrifice our well-being, and we are not prepared to sacrifice the lives of our people. So while we hope that the University will act on its minimum obligation to provide accessible counselling services, and its ethical obligation to address harmful narratives and practices on campus – we recognize the possibility that our hope has been misplaced,” says Butterfield. “This is not the first time that we have called for change, and this is not the first time that we have been asked to pretend that the world should keep turning when we lose one of our own.”

Butterfield wasn’t the only student to lend her voice to the cause, and share concerns.

Hundreds of students participated in the walkout, with many sharing personal stories about mental health, and how it’s impacted them.

A petition has also been launched, calling on the University to provide additional supports and funding for the existing Counselling Centre.

University of Waterloo President, Feridun Hamdullahpur, has heard students’ concerns – and commissioned a report from the Mental Health Advisory Committee earlier this week.

In a video released Wednesday, Hamdullahpur invites all students to join a forum next week – so they can learn more about the Committee’s report recommendations, and UW’s plan to put them into action.

“It is of critical importance that our entire University community is engaged in this discussion,” says Hamdullahpur.

The President’s Advisory Committee will host the Student Mental Health Forum at Fed Hall on March 14.