Using the power of storytelling to support student mental health

The Counselling team of Student Services hosted an arts-based workshop on Feb. 25 to provide a safe space for Dawson College students to connect with each other, share stories and learn about resources to support mental health during this time of isolation.

About 45 students attended the workshop entitled Movies for Mental Health, presented by Art with Impact. The 90-minute event included three movies, a panel discussion and question time.

“During the virtual mingle and panel discussion, students were interested, interactive and engaged,” reported organizer Phani Papachristou, who works at Dawson in Counselling. “They shared their thoughts, feelings and reflections around the films about anxiety and depression. They also explored their self-care strategies and shared them with the group.”

Some student feedback comments were:

  • “The workshop helped me realize there are resources out there for me; I am not alone.”
  • “Incredibly user friendly. It did not feel forced like many conferences do. It surprised me.”
  • “There isn’t one solution that works for everybody and as demonstrated by the panelists, there are many things you can do to improve your mental wellness.”
  • “This workshop was affirming and a safe space for somebody who is perhaps unwilling to admit they may struggle with mental illness. I would recommend it to a friend who is curious as to what a mental health workshop looks like.”
  • “I think I felt validated for seeking help, both on-campus and off-campus (so post Covid). I think the introduction of resources is especially important.”
  • “A fascinatingly educational workshop, that might teach you something new and/or even ground you!!”
  • “I’ll definitely use the breathing exercises again to calm myself and my friends.”

Phani wished to thank Allison MacNeil, Psychology intern from the Herzl Teenage Health Unit, and Tony Alfonso from Ami-Quebec for speaking about their resources.

Dawson psychologist Rebecca Lalonde was also a panelist.

Here is her reflection on the event:

“Connecting with the other panel members over our shared experiences helped me feel energized about the broader collective effort to support students. I found it especially valuable to hear how the other panelists have come to understand mental health in their own ways.  In addition to showcasing some incredibly moving and powerful short films, the event allowed for an honest discussion about mental health. Further, I found the wellness activities (e.g., body scan, mindful breathing) led by the facilitator throughout the event to be practical and refreshing. It was encouraging to see the students participate so actively. I found it really heartwarming to see their support of each other in the chat, too.”

“A special thank you to Eleanor Greenspan, our student panelist, for her generosity and passion in sharing her story, and for inspiring her peers to reach out for support when they need it most,” Phani said.


Student Services, Dawson College

Herzl Teenage Health Unit

AMI Quebec

Crisis Services Canada

Kids Help Phone (all ages)

Wellness Together Canada

Black Youth Helpline

Trans Lifeline

Last Modified: March 9, 2021