Students start conversation about mental health

Pharmacy students create video encouraging peers to take care of themselves and seek support as they head into finals.


(Edmonton) Mental health matters. That’s the message third-year pharmacy student Scott Wakeham and his classmates want to share with their peers at the University of Alberta as they head into writing final exams.

Wakeham, the community education director for the Alberta Pharmacy Students’ Association, is the driving force behind a YouTube video aimed at raising awareness about mental wellness for students.

After attending a student leadership conference on mental health and social stigma in March, Wakeham came up with the idea to create the video to start a conversation about mental wellness among students. He developed the script and pitched the idea to fellow APSA members, who enthusiastically took part in the filming.

“We are just wrapping up the semester and heading into a stressful time for students,” says Wakeham. “I hope that this video will help others think about their own mental wellness and understand that it’s equally important to pay attention to both your mental and physical well-being.”

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, about one in five Canadians will develop a mental illness at some point in their life. The video suggests that five in five Canadians should be paying attention to their mental well-being.

As a future pharmacist, Wakeham is passionate about his role in health-care delivery. For him it’s about taking a holistic, proactive approach. “Looking at all aspects of mental health is important; mental illness is just one part of the spectrum. Mental well-being is also very important, and reaching out is often viewed as a sign of weakness,” says Wakeham. “I hope that this video reaches those individuals who may be neglecting their mental well-being.”

The video reminds students that there are resources available to help and offers positive suggestions for taking care of mental wellness, such as music, dance, knitting, napping, running, biking and climbing.

While the video features students and faculty members from the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Wakeham credits second-year engineering student Jordon Hon for filming and producing the video.

Hon, who worked closely with Wakeham to deliver the finished product, volunteered his time in making Wakeham’s vision a reality. “I wanted to work on this video project specifically because I think everyone needs a reminder to take care of their mental health, especially during finals,” says Hon. “It's important to me to have a balance between school and leisure, and this video could inspire or remind people to manage their time better in order to schedule breaks for relaxation, which would benefit all aspects of their lives.”

Filming took part over the course of two days, and Wakeham was assisted in production efforts by second-year pharmacy student Daniel Leung.

Wakeham hopes the video “inspires conversation amongst students and puts mental well-being at the forefront of the discussion.”