Centennial College students stay 'Up All Night' for mental health
Millennials who are currently entering or adjusting to the workforce are stressed –really stressed. Three-quarters of millennials (aged 18 to 34) report losing sleep due to stress and one-third of them rank their overall stress level as eight out of 10 or higher. This number is almost 2.5 times higher than what was reported by their parents’ demographic, aged 55+. The results are from a survey conducted earlier this month for Up All Night, a Centennial College student initiative.
“Up All Night is designed to get employers and students talking about the issue of mental health and wellness, so that we can get a better understanding and appreciation of each other’s perspectives,” said Erin Griffin, a student organizer. The 12-hour event, being hosted at Centennial College’s Story Arts Centre on March 31 at 7 p.m. to April 1 at 7 a.m., is part of Project Fusion, an annual partnership with CivicAction that aims to generate conversation on urban issues and engage the next generation of change agents.
“Employers need to wake up to the fact that this new generation of workers has needs that will be very different from their predecessors," said Evan Luke, a public relations student working on the campaign, who also represents the student voice on CivicAction’s Mental Health in the Workplace Champions Council. “The high stress level of this age group demonstrates that the issue of mental health in the workplace will continue to gain importance as millennials transition from school to work.”
CivicAction, a city-building organization focused on the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, will be moving forward this year with an initiative to mobilize employers and employees to better support their colleagues’ mental health.
The survey, hosted on the Angus Reid Forum, found that compared to those aged 35 and over, millennials were more likely to describe experiencing a “great deal” of stress, especially regarding their future plans (43 per cent versus 19 per cent). Stress about future plans was most likely to cause millennials to lose sleep (48 per cent), followed closely by school-related stress (44 per cent).
It is important to note, however, that while millennials may be experiencing the physical and emotional effects of stress and sleep loss, they don’t seem to be too concerned about it. The age group identified irritability (59 per cent), trouble focusing (56 per cent), anxiety (50 per cent) and feeling withdrawn (34 per cent) as symptoms of this sleep loss; however, they were also twice as likely to say they had no health-related stress compared to those over the age of 35.
While millennials may not be concerned about their physical health, experts agree that physical and mental health are intrinsically linked. “Making physical health more of a priority can go a long way,” said Centennial College counsellor Eric Dunn. “Very solid evidence suggests that exercise helps us regulate our mood. Sleep well, guess what? You're a better student! Eat well and we feel better. A nourished body and brain work better.”
Student-voice key to the discussion
“Some have described the impacts of stress as the ‘second-hand smoke’ of this generation,” said Sevaun Palvetzian, CEO of CivicAction. “Students, an important set of voices on urban issues and the workforce of our future, need to be part of the conversation and solutions. This is a great initiative that contributes to both.”
Donna Lindell, faculty supervisor for the initiative, agrees. “The students at the Story Arts Centre are to be congratulated for their hard work and determination to address this issue in a meaningful way. The students involved have shown tremendous leadership in making this campaign happen.”
Up All Night highlights
Proceeds for the event on March 31 will go to fund a YellowIsForHello Friendship Bench, and associated mental health awareness campaign, which will encourage more peer-to-peer conversations about mental health and connect those suffering in silence with available on- and off-campus support services. The bench will be installed at Centennial College’s Story Arts Centre. Donations can be made at www.upallnight.myevent.com.
The all-nighter will feature
- A speed-networking session between employers and students;
- An expert panel moderated by Centennial College journalism professor Ted Barris featuring representatives from Bell, CivicAction, Sam Fiorella, founder of the Lucas Fiorella Friendship Bench, and student rep Evan Luke;
- A workshop on peer help and suicide prevention by Sam Fiorella;
- Live music and dance performances by students in the college’s music and dance programs.
About the Student Campaign: Project Fusion
The campaign –including the survey, a magazine, website and the event –are all part of the School of Communications, Media and Design’s co-curricular program called Project Fusion, a student-led, student-executed initiative that aims to generate conversation through various story-telling disciplines around one of CivicAction’s issues of focus. The campaign is a collaborative effort, with contributions from students in many of the school’s programs including public relations, journalism, graphic design, arts, music, dance and interactive media management.
About the survey
The online survey was conducted from March 11 to March 15, 2016, with 1,135 randomly selected adult Ontario residents who are Angus Reid Forum panellists. The margin of error is +/- 2.9%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Ontario. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.
About Centennial College and the Story Arts Centre
Established in 1966, Centennial College is Ontario’s first public college, primarily serving the eastern portion of the Greater Toronto Area through four campuses. It has a record of exemplary teaching, innovative programming and extensive partnership building. With a full-time enrolment of 19,000 students, Centennial is recognized as one of the most culturally diverse post-secondary institutions in Canada. Visit www.centennialcollege.ca.
The Story Arts Centre is home to the School of Communications, Media and Design, offering programs such as public relations and corporate communications, advertising, journalism, broadcasting and film, animation, art and design, and performance programs such as music and dance.
For over a decade, CivicAction has brought together senior executives and rising leaders from all sectors to tackle challenges facing the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. CivicAction builds partnerships and takes action through campaigns, programs and organizations that transform our region. For more information, visit www.civicaction.ca or follow CivicAction on Twitter @CivicActionGTHA.
For more information, to attend Up All Night, or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Tel: 416-289-5000, ext. 8738