A new initiative to help raise awareness about available mental health programs in the region was launched by the Fanshawe Student Union on Monday.

Lois Wey of Fanshawe’s Counselling and Accessibility Services says “We want our students to be more aware of mental health, to understand better how to take care of themselves [and] what resources are available.”

In partnership with the College Student Alliance and Fanshawe College, the initiative hopes to help those dealing with mental health issues find the support they need.

‘Blue Monday,’ the start of the last full week of January, is often seen as one of the most depressing days of the year.

It falls at a time when debt levels are often at their highest as Christmas bills roll in, weather is typically cold and gloomy and there are still months of school left to go.

Fanshawe student Kelilah Uras says “With the stress of school and money and just being away from home, for some kids it might be a little more stressful than others.”

Jill Lynch, a social worker with The Prevention and Early Intervention Program for Psychoses says there are some tips for those feeling down.

She suggests seeking help from your support network, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, keeping active and avoiding things like drugs and alcohol.

“Most people are pretty in tune with what’s going on for themselves, and they can see ‘Am I not sleeping right, am I losing my appetite, am I not feeling good, and I having difficulty with motivation,’” she says.

Fanshawe is one of 15 campuses across Ontario taking part in the initiative, according to the College Student Alliance.