January 29, 2019 7:36 pm

Benches at Sask. Polytechnic aim to spark conversation about mental health

WATCH ABOVE: A bright yellow bench will be installed at universities and colleges across Canada as a welcoming spot to start a conversation about mental health and to honor Lucas Fiorello.

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A new bright addition to Saskatchewan Polytechnic in Saskatoon is hoping to encourage conversations about mental health.

A yellow bench was unveiled on Tuesday afternoon, as part of The Lucas Fiorella Friendship Bench initiative.

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Sam Fiorella started the bench program in 2015, after his son, Lucas Fiorella, took his own life in October 2014.

“We believe that only through peer-to-peer conversation can we remove the stigma around mental illness. We have really found that students today don’t want to be lectured to,” Fiorella said.

“The movement is about encouraging students to make it OK for other students to be open and honest about what they’re feeling so that they’re more likely to then get the help they need and stop suffering in silence.”

WATCH BELOW: Bench at Vernon school encourages talk about mental health

There are 52 benches in high schools and post-secondary institutions across the country.

This week, benches were also installed at Moose Jaw and Prince Albert Saskatchewan Polytechnic campuses. The Regina campus received a Friendship Bench in May 2017.

Fiorella said there have been constant requests for the bench program.

“The students are leading it because they understand the need, almost more than adults do because they’re living it.”

“They understand what they’re feeling. They see their friends dying and their friends suffering, and so they’re clamoring for it,” Fiorella said.

The Friendship Bench aims to encourage conversations about mental health.

Tyler Schroeder / Global News

Fiorella hopes a simple “hello” can make all the difference.

“This one word ‘hello,’ we believe will inspire students to not just say hello for the sake of hello, but to go a little bit deeper, to ask the question and to be open to receiving a ‘hello’ and encouraging those honest conversations.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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