Tags: November 2021, Vol. 2, Issue 1
The content you are about to read involves mental health challenges and suicidal thoughts.
Humber Wellness Talks hosted mental health advocate, Mark Henick virtually in September. Mark shared his experience with the audience about growing up, being discouraged about sharing his emotions, depicting harmful images, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
At 10, Henick’s teacher discovered his drawings depicting various ways he could harm himself and referred him to a guidance counsellor.
“I told them what I’d been feeling. It all felt very normal to me,” said Henick of his depression and suicidal thoughts, at the event. Facing a lack of resources, Henick was sent to the hospital, this time, and many times after. He felt utterly hopeless and helpless.
A few years later, Henick climbed over the railing of a bridge in his small town, prepared to jump.
Henick felt beyond help, past the point of reaching out.
Fortunately, a helping hand reached in.
A stranger called out to him, stood beside him and asked his name. He asked more questions, leaving long spaces of silence for Henick to fill up, or not. The stranger ultimately saved Mark’s life that night on the bridge. The encounter helped the young Henick see the world a little differently, open up, tell his story and become a mental health advocate.
Henick urged others to push the first domino by sharing their own stories to create a safe, caring space for the college community. He described the systemic changes needed to not only decrease stigma, but get people the help they need promptly, including campus-wide health strategies.
“If there’s someone who’s struggling, it’s on us to help them,” said Henick. “We need community solutions to help people.” Institutions must also act - beyond training and campaigns. “Sometimes,” Henick added, “the problems people are facing, the barriers keeping them in that place, we may be a part of that.”
No matter how much postsecondary institutions push the needle, mental illness and struggle will continue to exist, so Henick also has some advice for students whose capacity may have decreased or who need to slow down a little. Deadlines aren’t going anywhere, but priorities can change. “If you fail, is that the worst [thing] that can happen?” he asked before reflecting on his own winding road to recovery. “Failure can serve a purpose. It doesn’t have to crush you. People need to know they can recover, and that whatever they’re going through won’t last forever.”
You can read more about Mark in his memoir, So-Called Normal.
If you are a Humber student and need support, you can access Therapy Assistance Online (TAO), which provides online and mobile tools or call the Good2Talk Helpline at 1-666-925-5454. In case of emergency, call 9-1-1.
For more information, visit Humber’s Student Life website.