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Lethbridge Kodiaks make noise for mental health awareness

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On Thursday, the Lethbridge College Kodiaks kicked off their Make Some Noise for Mental Health campaign. The initiative highlights what resources are available to students in need. Matt Battochio reports – Jan 31, 2019

The Lethbridge College Kodiaks launched their Make Some Noise for Mental Health campaign on Thursday with a rousing pep rally filled with students, faculty and athletes.

READ MORE: Rita’s Run in Lethbridge raising awareness of mental illness

The goal of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference-wide initiative is to reduce stigma related to mental health while also highlighting the supports that are available.

“Athletes are known as the jocks and the tough people and they don’t think athletes are dealing with these issues, but really they are,” said Kodiaks soccer player Seth Slomp.

Slomp sought out the college’s counselling services two months ago to help cope with anxiety and stress.

“It took to the point where some friendships were breaking away, so that’s where I said, ‘I can’t break anymore friendships. I need to go to go to counselling and get some advice,’” Slomp said. “I’ve found it’s been very helpful with me. I’ve found (things have) been easier — less stress, less anxious about things like being able to keep good friendships around me.”

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For some facing these challenges, it might take a little encouragement to get the help needed.

Kodiaks volleyball player Mason Edwards battled depression and anxiety in his first year away from home. In an effort to support his player, his coach reached out.

“I was not as motivated and didn’t have as much energy in practice,” Edwards said. “So he said, ‘I think it would be good for you to seek some help and check out the advice here at the college.’ So I did and it really helps.”

Lethbridge College’s health services department said they see one to two people every day dealing with a mental health crisis.

“Just letting them know that they’re not alone, and there’s many people that are going through crisis and that are going through stuff, especially at post-secondary institutions,” said Michelle Dykshoorn, a registered nurse with Lethbridge College. “School is stressful. There’s a lot of change that comes with that.”

READ MORE: Suicide rates among Canadian women are rising faster than men. It’s unclear why

Edwards said he’s learnt coping mechanisms through services at the college and talks with his family and friends are having a positive effect.

After what he’s been through, he’s happy to make noise for mental health.

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“Doing pep rallies like this really shows that you are not alone and there are other people struggling with the same issues that you have,” Edwards said. “So it just goes to show that there are lots of others out there that are struggling with the same issues and it helps to know that there’s a community around you that is willing to be there to help.”

The campaign continues this week with giveaways, games and prizes at the Kodiaks’ volleyball game against Ambrose on Thursday at 6 p.m. and basketball game on Saturday at 6 p.m., also against Ambrose.