By: Jenna Tziatis, Marketing Assistant, McMaster University Continuing Education

In today’s tough job market a degree alone may not be enough to get you the job or promotion that you’re looking for.  Employer expectations are higher and are expecting more than the knowledge that comes with a degree. They are also scrutinizing candidates based on their enhanced skill-sets and experience to ensure they are hiring someone who will fit and integrate into their business and culture with the least disruption.

Savvy students are realizing this trend and responding by upskilling themselves to ensure that they stand out in the employment crowd and that their resume rises to the top of the pile.  If you’re thinking about getting ahead, McMaster Continuing Education offers a variety of learning options from diplomas and certificates to micro learning options. Whether your focus is in the field of business, health or professional development, there are many to choose from:

To make it easier for Mac students, McMaster Continuing Education offers a faster route to get you ahead with Degree + Diploma.  This opportunity allows you to earn a diploma or certificate while you work toward your degree.  You can use your elective credits in your current program of study toward a diploma or certificate with Continuing Education, allowing you to gain your qualifications faster. This opportunity is gaining popularity among Mac students and can be easily set up by contacting your Academic Advisor.    

If you’re not ready to jump straight into getting a diploma or certificate you can always try one of McMaster Continuing Education professional development courses or attend our upcoming free Business Entrepreneur Series micro learning session that is running in spring.  It’s a great way to gain valuable and recognized skills in a condensed learning format.  To attend this series you can sign up at mcmastercce.ca/events/free-business-entrepreneurship-series

Regardless of what you decide, by recognizing the demands of today’s job market and being proactive to acquire the skills that businesses are looking for will make you more visible and appealing to employers.  Continuing Education will give you that competitive edge to get ahead and land that job you’re looking for.

To learn more about these valuable learning options visit www.mcmastercce.ca

 

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Photo C/O Kyle West

Here’s a look at five major provincial, Hamilton and McMaster stories that hit the newscycle last week.

 

1. Provincial government releases sexual assault survey results

After falling under scrutiny this winter for not releasing the results of the Ontario-wide Student Voices on Sexual Violence survey, the Ontario government finally published the report in full.

The survey, which was sent out last year, asked students to outline their experiences with sexual violence at their post-secondary institution.

The results of the survey, released on March 19, also describe the experiences of sexual assault and violence McMaster students have had while completing their degrees. Here are some of the report’s key findings:

More information about the results of the survey, including McMaster University and McMaster Students Union’s response to them, will be included in the Silhouette’s April 4 issue.

 

2. New study suggests ‘clear relationship” between mental health and precarious employment

A new McMaster-affiliated study underscores the strong link between precarious employment and mental health, offering a snapshot into the mental health of precariously employed millennials in Hamilton.

The comprehensive 103-page study reveals the results of the 89-question online Hamilton Millennial Survey, which surveyed nearly 1,200 employed millennials living in Hamilton last year.

 

3. Hamilton-based white supremacist Paul Fromm under investigation for ties to New Zealand manifesto

Following the massacre of 50 people in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, Hamilton Police Services launched an investigation into Paul Fromm, a Hamilton-based white supremacist. Fromm recently ran for mayor in the 2017 municipal election and received 706 votes.

 

4. Hamilton declares state of climate change emergency

As part of a global push to confront climate change, Hamilton has joined hundreds of other municipalities, voting to declare a climate emergency last Monday.

5. McMaster students call for sweeping changes to education

On March 20 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., students marched through the McMaster University Student Centre and protested outside of the building’s courtyard, demanding radical changes to the post-secondary education system.

The protest was part of the Red Spring campaign and launched by the Revolutionary Student Movement, an anti-capitalist organization on campus.

Some of the demands of the protest include:

While there are no definitive plans for another protest, Khan notes that the campaign will not end anytime soon.

 

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Photo by Kyle West

By: Rida Pasha

It is unsurprising that there is an increase in mental health issues among university students, especially here at McMaster University. Whether it is stress, relationships, family or work, there are numerous factors that can contribute to developing mental health issues.  

While professional help is encouraged, such as therapy or counselling, these services can be very expensive for the average student.

Though McMaster prides itself on the mental health resources it provides, such as those at the Student Wellness Centre, it is commonly known that the university has much room for improvement.

One of the ongoing concerns at the SWC is the amount of time it takes to actually see a counsellor.

The lack of counsellors present at McMaster has been an issue for a while and though various students have advocated for the SWC to hire more counsellors in order to meet the demand, it is important that any counsellors hired reflect the student population at McMaster.

The university is home to various groups of people that come from diverse backgrounds and communities. Not only is it important for students to see more representation at the SWC, it is also important to acknowledge that many students feel more comfortable seeking help from counsellors that they can relate to.

For a university that is home to thousands of students of colour and members of the LGBTQA2S+ community, it is essential that the SWC hire more counsellors that are able to relate and provide a sense of understanding to these students’ struggles.

As someone who is an Indian immigrant that grew up in Canada, I personally would feel more prompted to seek counselling if I knew there were Asian professionals that had a similar background to mine.

I would feel more encouraged to discuss details of my life such as my culture and heritage, which is something that my counsellor could likely relate to without misunderstanding.

Additionally, as it can be difficult for international students to adjust to Canadian culture, they may wish to seek counselling. As it stands, there are not many services specified for international students concerning mental health and wellness.

If the SWC were to hire more counsellors aimed at improving the mental health of these international students, more students may be inclined to use their services to improve their mental health and overall experience at McMaster.

According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 34 per cent of Ontario high school students have indicated psychological distress on a moderate to serious level and these levels are only bound to increase during university.

Though McMaster has attempted to provide services aimed at improving mental health and wellness, it is time the university took active change.

It is vital that McMaster acts to not only increase the number of counsellors, but also to increase the diversity of counsellors available for the numerous groups of students who call McMaster home.

 

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Shloka Jetha is a woman who has always been on the move. After growing up in seven countries, the 23-year old has finally settled in Toronto and is pursuing her dream of working with at-risk youth. Part of what appealed to her about the new Professional Addiction Studies program at McMaster Continuing Education is that it’s online, which means she can set her own schedule and study on-the-go when she’s away from home.

But of course the biggest draw is the way Jetha feels the program will complement and expand upon what she learned in her McMaster degree in sociology, as well as what she is currently learning in a Child and Youth Care program at another school. With the goal of someday working in a clinical setting like the Sick Kids Centre for Brain and Mental Health, Jetha believes the more practical information she has about addiction and mental health, the better.

“I’m learning a lot in my current Child and Youth program,” Jetha enthuses, “but for me there is a bit of a knowledge gap that the McMaster Professional Addiction Studies program will help to close. It’s an incredibly complex field, every situation is new, and you need to be able read between the lines and understand the difference between what a troubled kid is saying and what’s actually going on in their life.”

Jetha believes that having the rich background knowledge the Professional Addiction Studies program will provide, and being able to link that information to her work in the field, will help her excel faster. Most importantly, she feels it will make her better and more effective at helping and healing kids in crisis.

“I’m specifically looking forward to gaining more knowledge about pharmacology, but also about other things as it’s difficult to learn on the job,” Jetha says. “I can learn a tremendous amount from the kids I work with, and that’s invaluable experience, but coming to them with a deeper knowledge base will allow me to talk with them about drugs and alcohol in a way I otherwise couldn’t.”

Jetha has been fortunate not to be personally touched by addiction, but has lost friends and people in her community from overdose. She is also familiar with the impact of this complex issue through the volunteer work she has done.

Even though this is an incredibly demanding career path, it’s one Jetha is proud and honoured to walk. She feels the good outweighs the bad and is determined to continue learning and helping as much as she can. The Professional Addiction Studies program at McMaster Continuing Education is uniquely designed to help her achieve that goal.

Applications for Spring term are open until April 29, 2019. Learn more at mcmastercce.ca/addiction-studies-program

 

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Poster C/O Hamilton Youth Poets

By: Drew Simpson

Over a month of Hamilton Youth Poet’s Black Poet Residency has passed. So far, the residency has taken place at the Art Gallery of Hamilton every Saturday and the weekly residency will continue until May.

HYP is an arts organization that launched in October 2012. The organization’s four main goals are to manifest a community of cultural understanding, offer youth tools to deliver their writing and literary skill, engage youth towards their academic ambitions and to support aspiring artists’ professional development.  

Ultimately, HYP empowers young people by offering training as arts organizers and allowing youth to take part in the planning, promotion and facilitation of events. One of these events is the Black Poet Residency featuring Ian Keteku, a two-time national slam champion and multimedia artist, as a key facilitator.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BcsJpE6nKdY/

Although both the organization and event have poets within its name, participants may be beyond the scope of experienced poets. Those who wish to develop their writing skills, editing, computer literacy and even multi-digital processes will benefit from the residency.

“Those interested need not regard themselves as poets or require any prior knowledge of poetry. The residency aims to transcend simply writing poems,” explains one of HYP’s teaching artists, Akintoye Asalu.   

This residency is in line with HYP’s focus on youth-focused events coordinated by youths, as it is aimed towards youth writers, performers and creative-minded individuals. As mentioned by Asalu, anyone who is interested in bettering their skills is welcome to attend.

“When our young people can tell and re-tell their histories in the context of public platforms, they are able to imagine and re-imagine their individual and collective identities and become culturally grounded in their own experiences,” explains HYP’s website.  

https://www.instagram.com/p/BiXLjB2AIgI/

The residency aims to provide an inclusive and supportive space which allows black youth to express their experiences and explore their voices. Such a weekly residency is necessary in Hamilton, to amplify often-silenced voices while also developing skills and building community.  Asalu can attribute the prosperity of this residency as a participant himself.

“Being able to sit down and converse with people who understand the struggles that come with being a [person of colour] motivates me to keep using my art to help our community in as many ways as I can… My only hope is that the healthy dialogue that exists within the residency will spread to the rest of the community,” explains Asalu.  

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id="235" gal_title="HYP Event"]

Poetry and art directly combat the sense of isolation people of colour experience on a daily basis. Especially as they face daily experiences with institutions that were built without them in mind.  

Asalu describes how poetry allows him to be the voice for those cast in silence; bringing light to silenced struggles. He also finds poetry as a healthy coping mechanism. Every HYP event puts youth at the center. Therefore, a Black-focused residency, puts Black youth at the center; a position that may be unfamiliar to them.

“I want Black people all around the city to feel comfortable talking about the things they go through on a day-to-day basis without fear of judgment from those around them. It is my belief that in order to enact change, we must first begin with constructive dialogue. Through this dialogue, constructive actions can be taken to improve the quality of life for [people of colour] as a whole,” explains Asalu.

This residency can be the defining moment for many Black youths in Hamilton. Raising their voices, attending to their mental health and finding support in community are never-ending obstacles for black youth. The ability to express struggles and unbox silenced concerns while doing so is a grand goal that when realized makes a positive difference in a young person’s life.     

 

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Graphics by Sukaina Imam

By: Jackie McNeill

When I had friends over as a kid, I would pull my mom aside after a few hours and ask, “When are they going to leave?” It’s not that I wasn’t having fun — I loved seeing my friends, but this time with others never failed to become draining and leave me with a need for some alone time.

While I once thought this desire to be alone was abnormal and unhealthy, as I got older I learned to take advantage of it to promote self-improvement. Left alone with just my thoughts, I’ve had the opportunity to think critically about who I am as a person, what I like about myself and what I want to do better.

Learning about who I was, both outside and inside of my relationships with others, and working to better myself has helped to increase my self-esteem exponentially over years of self-reflection.

I’ve experienced how this increase in self-esteem has aided my relationship with myself, but studies show that it can also benefit the way we interact with others.

Megan McCarthy, a professor in the department of psychology at the University of Waterloo, suggests that people with low self-esteem are more likely to stay in unhappy relationships with others, resulting from their resistance to recognize and address problems.

“People with a more negative self-concept often have doubts and anxieties about the extent to which other people care about them,” explained McCarthy.

The self-concept is our idea of self, constructed through a combination of our own beliefs about ourselves and how others respond to us. A negative self-concept, then, can cause someone to assume negative reactions towards them and therefore avoid confrontation or conflict as a defense against these assumptions being actualized.

So, an increase in self-esteem can certainly improve romantic relationships, but those are not the only relationships we experience. Every interaction we have, be it with friends, family, or even our co-workers, can benefit from the practice of self-love and self-care.

Time alone also increases communication with the self through self-awareness. When I spend time alone, my own thoughts, feelings and desires become my priority. This has helped me realize that communicating with myself should remain a priority throughout my life, including when I interact with others, paving the way for honest and open relationships.

In addition, being self-aware has allowed me to be more receptive of others’ thoughts, feelings and desires, which may reflect similar concerns or insecurities that I possess. By reflecting upon the self, we can become more sensitive and considerate towards the people we build relationships with.  

It is important to note that my idea of alone is not one size fits all. Spending time alone can simply mean loneliness for some people, and as a Psychology Today article explains this can lead to anxieties, depression, or reminders of loss and abandonment.

McMaster University’s Prof. Tara Marshall illustrates this idea through the example of a breakup.

After a breakup, people who are more secure in relationships and have higher self-esteem are more likely to desire some time alone,” explained Marshall.

“They may engage in some personal growth-enhancing experiences. People high in anxious attachment, on the other hand, desire to go on the rebound after a breakup,” she added.

Marshall went on to explain that humans are social by nature and we have a need to belong to social groups as our survival has depended on it throughout history. So it is important to balance time spent alone with socialization, just as it’s important to get to know yourself and what will work well for your own self-esteem.

The point of this time spent alone is to improve your feelings about yourself, but also to use this to positively affect your relationships with others. What works for me won’t work for everyone, but maybe by sharing my experience others will venture to learn more about themselves and how they interact with others.

Of course, when trying to self-reflect as a student several issues present themselves. Our days are packed with studying, interactions with peers everywhere on campus, trying to balance friends, a job, finishing that essay and visiting family; our minds never get a break.

So how do you get some quiet time in a busy day? Try the silent study in Mills— it’s a great way to ease yourself into being alone because you’re surrounded by other students, but everyone is focused on their own work. There’s no opportunity for socialization to distract you from yourself.

Sitting still can be difficult, so go for a walk alone in a quiet neighbourhood. No phone calls or music, just reflect on that day or what’s to come and make an effort to think positively.

If these options take too much time, go to bed 20 minutes earlier than usual and let your mind wander while trying some deep breathing. This can help ease stress and relax your mind, leaving it open for reflection.

This time alone allows you to drop what Psychology Today calls your “social guard.” Pay attention to how you behave alone and compare it to how you behave around others, and maybe work to let some of your “alone” self bleed into your public persona.

Whether you crave alone time like me or not, we can all benefit from a bit of self-reflection to better our relationship with ourselves and others. Self-awareness and the resulting higher self-esteem make an impact on the way we interact with others, and can keep our relationships open, honest and healthy.

 

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Photo by Kyle West

By: Bridgette Walker

There have been and will continue to be various types of service and working dogs in educational environments like McMaster University and out in the world at large. I’m Bridgette and I have a dog guide named Estelle.

Please don’t freak out! Properly trained dogs are more effective, efficient and reliable than technology for a lot of physical and mental health conditions. These dogs truly do save lives.

Estelle plays many important roles in my life including going to McMaster University with me. She does many things including listening for certain sounds — especially my snack alarms — and knows where all the really important places are. Aside from deafness, I have anxiety, autism and chronic migraines. Estelle keeps me in check mentally and emotionally.

When meeting service dogs, there are some ground rules: ask first, establish what’s helpful and what are the limits. There are some things Estelle really shouldn’t do for her own sake, and a few things that would actually cause problems for me. Meeting other service dogs is cool too, as long as they're all well-behaved and ready to get right back to work.

Anyway, I don’t appreciate people randomly trying to pet or play with Estelle while I’m walking between classes. In general, all dog guides need to pay attention to where they’re going, and to their person.  We're on the move, but she’s still listening for what sounds are in the area, how I am doing and so forth.  

Please respect my space. I don’t like being “crowded in” and neither does Estelle.  She may be a dog, but she’s also regarded as a medical device — same as a wheelchair or other medical apparatus.

And yes, you can take a picture of us as part of the scenery going by, but don’t stop us to pose for snaps; if we did this every time, I'd be late for everything.

Enough with distracting the dogs themselves! This can be dangerous for other people with more serious conditions when their service dogs are being distracted and hindered from alerting them to potentially harmful or even fatal issues that can crop up at any time. I’m blessed that this isn’t the case for me, so far.

Then there are people with phobias. I don’t know whatever trauma you have endured in the past but we really don’t mean you any harm! Please, stop screaming and whining. It’s not good for Estelle's ears, not good for my anxiety and certainly not good for your throat or mental health.

Don’t project your personal problem onto us like that. You are an adult in university and entering the working world. If you’re going to be like that every time you see Estelle or another kind of service dog on campus or out in the world, you’re not going to live as good a quality life as you deserve. Everyone should be able to enjoy or at least tolerate seeing these dogs on duty — they’re really good at heart!

The secret is that if she weren’t on duty, she'd like to try being your friend! Estelle also likes visiting babies, kittens and even pet chickens. Anyway, since she can’t try comforting you in her doggy-way, try refocusing your perspective of the dog with: “It’s a special animal. It’s somebody’s lifeline.”  

From Estelle and me, see you around campus!

 

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Graphics by Sukaina Imam

By: Rosemarie O’Shea

For many users, the birth control pill’s side effects pose problems beyond spotting and migraines. The pill’s effects on the mental health of women are now being more widely discussed than ever. More women are opening up about their birth control experiences and how it has taken a toll on their mental wellbeing.

A quick YouTube search results in various videos titled along the lines of “Why I quit the pill”, where one video is even titled and thoroughly capitalized “THE PILL IS MAKING ME CRAZY. I QUIT”. Despite all this discussion in the social sphere, the medical research in comparison appears to be lacking.

Upon being made available to Canadians since 1960, the pill quickly became the country’s most popular form of reversible contraception. Now, more than 100 million women worldwide use the oral contraceptive pill to prevent pregnancy or control their menstruation.

Birth control pills contain varying levels of the hormones estrogen and progestin, the synthetic version of progesterone, a natural sex hormone. They prevent the release of the egg to stop ovulation from occurring, whilst also thickening the cervical mucus so that sperm cells are unable to enter the fallopian tubes. Both tactics minimize the chances of the egg meets sperm fertilization fairy tale. Provided it is taken correctly, the pill’s efficiency rate is stated to be 99 per cent effective.

Of course, almost every medication comes with its own set of side effects. The most commonly reported repercussions of the pill include intermenstrual spotting, nausea, breast tenderness and migraines. Slotted amongst these physical reactions, the ever-ominous sounding ‘mood changes’ is also listed.

These ‘mood changes’ are reflected in the most common reason for women to stop taking or change the pill they are using – its ramifications on their mental health.

In the 1970s, women protested for more information to be made available about the side effects of the pill as there were increasing reports of women suffering from heart conditions in connection to it. Eventually, the Food and Drug Administration required manufacturers to include inserts, within its packaging, listing the pill’s side effects and risks.

The FDA also required that the pill’s formula contain a significantly less amount of estrogen which has resulted in a lower risk of cardiovascular events and emergence of cancers. However, the connection between usage and increased risk of experiencing mental health issues weren’t legitimately addressed.

Recent studies have determined a link between the changes in hormone levels and the extent of anxiety and depression prevalent such as in premenstrual syndrome. Furthermore, the progesterone hormone has been shown to induce depression while its synthetic version, progestin, has been discovered to result in the decreased production of serotonin which is the hormone responsible for feelings of wellbeing.

Finding an ethical method of proving the cause and effect relationship between the pill and deteriorating mental health has stunted research in the field as the distribution of placebo pills to study subjects would result in unwanted pregnancies. Though, a study involving celibate subjects would face no ethical deliberation.

The issue remains that the advancement of medical technology concerning all categories that the pill’s side effect falls into: mental health, contraceptive technology and women’s health. Funding for such research is simply inefficient in times where it is most needed and expected by many.

Moreover, there is a consistency in the medical community’s reluctance to connect the pill with mental health issues, despite the large quantity of claims that have supported the correlation. Such reluctance possibly stems from the pill’s profit and value as a commodity.

It also seems to be the most accessible form of contraception to many and, so, slandering its brand so to speak may appear as a brash move.

With so many women experiencing heightened mental health issues in connection to their usage of the pill, this is an issue that needs addressing within the medical community. While the government are pushing more funding into mental health awareness, this problem continues to grow without being adequately addressed by research.

It’s time to shift the focus from dealing with the issues at hand after they conspire to looking at preventative measures that will protect users. The pill and its implications need to be more well researched and users must be informed. It’s time for the medical community to listen to women’s experiences, as neglecting their health and wellbeing is not an option.

 


[1] https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-003-x/2015010/article/14222-eng.htm
[2] https://www.k4health.org/sites/default/files/l13.pdf
[3] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/290196.php
[4] https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-05-women-link-pill-depression.html
[5] https://www.plushcare.com/blog/birth-control-pill-brands/
[6] https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/birth-control-pill/how-effective-is-the-birth-control-pill
[7] https://www.plannedparenthood.org/files/1514/3518/7100/Pill_History_FactSheet.pdf
[8] https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-003-x/2015010/article/14222-eng.htm
[9] https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-05-women-link-pill-depression.html
[10] https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-05-women-link-pill-depression.html
[11] https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/women/contraceptive-pill-bbc-documentary-horizon-mental-health-depression-anxiety-suicidal-thoughts-zoe-a8645151.html

 

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Photos by Kyle West

On Jan. 30, the annual Bell Let’s Talk Day, an advertising campaign created by Bell Canada, took the country by storm. In an effort to raise awareness and combat stigma surrounding mental health in Canada, Bell donated money to mental health funds for every social interaction with campaigns hashtag.

While the world tweeted, snapped and Instagram-ed away, The McMaster Women’s Athletic Leadership Committee took it one step further and hosted their first-ever Bell Let’s Talk event.

The event consisted of McMaster student-athletes sharing their personal stories in an open and safe environment that was open to the entire McMaster community. Five student-athletes, Sabrina Schindel, Allison Sippel, Aurora Zuraw, Nicolas Belliveau and Louis Sharland, took the floor and led discussions on depression, eating disorders, language and anxiety and men’s mental health.

http://www.instagram.com/p/BtRPDA0BkSb/

The event was a success with a great turn out that included open discussion and much-needed conversations on mental health and how it affects athletes, in addition to the right steps that need to be taken to combat different stigmas.

“At first, I was expecting it to be a small event with just members of WALC, but to have my teammates, friends and people I didn’t even know come out to support was so amazing and inspiring,” said Sippel, the initiator for the event.

The idea for the event came up after Sippel, a cross-country runner, wanted to be able to create an open space for people to be able to talk about their battles with mental health.

“I feel like if we are able to create a space where people are open to talking, there would be less of a stigma around it,” said Sippel.

She first wrote down her story after she got out of the hospital after suffering from an eating disorder. After reading it to her close friends and family members, she never really shared it with the public. But when the idea of creating an event for Bell Let’s Talk came up, the idea of the panel sharing personal stories came to mind.

Working with Claire Arsenault, McMaster’s Athlete Services Coordinator and WALC, the panel that would originally be a conversation for members of the committee grew to more.

“I was happy that male athletes joined in and it was really inspirational that the group of us could be able to share our stories,” said Sippel.

🗣️ #OneTeamForMentalHealth 🗣️

Ask someone how they are doing.

📸 @MPHcentral#WeAreONE | #BellLetsTalk pic.twitter.com/OlmEeBWH9r

— Ontario University Athletics (@OUAsport) January 31, 2019

Each speaker shared their story then opened up the floor for discussion, answering questions in regard to their experiences, advice for others and much more.

During the panel, Sippel shared her story about how her eating disorder led her to be hospitalized when she was 14 years old. After losing too much weight and no longer being allowed to run, her journey to bounce back was not easy.

“This illness had turned mind against body and person against person because nurses were trained to trust no one,” Sippel explained about her time in the hospital.

Eventually, Sippel showed signs of improvement and was allowed to leave the hospital and return to her everyday life. Fast-forward to today, and she is now running on the Mac cross-country team while trying her best to stay on top of her condition.

“It’s a lifetime of fighting against my mind so I never had to go back,” Sippel said.

For Sippel, having the student-athletes lead this conversation was important for a number of reasons.

“I feel like a lot of times, it is frowned upon to express our feelings. If we start the conversation, there is no better way to set an example for our fellow students,” said Sippel. “Hopefully five students sharing their stories can spiral into something bigger and start a movement.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/BtREZWEh1QA/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Schindel, another one of the five student-athletes who shared their stories, is a lacrosse player who suffered from depression. Through the ups and downs of dealing with her battle, she eventually discovered that staying busy and active is what kept helped her out the most. This meant that when her lacrosse season was over, she would have to find something to keep her occupied so she did not fall down that dark hole again.

“Realizing that no one is beyond help and getting in front of my depression before it could do the same damage it used to,” Schindel explained as the steps she takes to keep herself from falling again.

Schindel’s story, though devastating, is more common amongst young people than one may think. This is why it is so important that these conversations are happening. Having the bravery to start the conversation, and sharing tips and resources with their fellow students is a great way for Marauders to do their part in helping end the stigma surrounding mental health.

 

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Photo by Kyle West

By: Adriana Skaljin

Being in athletics, especially at a university level, can add pressure to the lives of athletes. Whether it comes from personal expectations, or those of coaches and fans, pressure can affect both their physical and mental states. 

Matt Quiring, who has been a forward for the McMaster men’s basketball team for four years, began playing due to his family’s love for the sport.

“I started playing when I was in the third grade, but started playing competitively in Grade five,” said Quiring. “I’m glad that my parents forced me to play, considering that I was shy. It got me to where I am today.”

Through basketball, Quiring met many important coaches and players who provided him with opportunities he would not have experienced otherwise.

“Basketball also taught me hard work ethic, [which] I wouldn’t have learned anywhere else,” explained Quiring. “This skill can be translated later on in life.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/BsgmAYBBlS6/

Sefa Otchere, first-year starting guard, also acknowledged the ways in which basketball has positively impacted his life.

“[The sport] is still impacting my life,” Otchere said. “Playing sports made me get out of my house, and [ultimately] showed me different places [while] making new friends.”

Both players also commented on the pressures that playing at a university level places on them.

“There is a lot of pressure that comes with the sport, both academically and athletically,” said Quiring. “It can get to you a lot of times. The mental and physical struggles can become taxing.”

Quiring and Otchere have implemented motivational strategies to work through their doubts and create a positive mindset when going into their games.

“[The pressure] is something I’ve struggled with,” said Quiring. “Recently, I have increased my confidence and have used pregame techniques given to me by a sports psychologist. There is a whole mental side to preparing.”

Otchere has a similar approach to handling pressure, starting with not putting expectations on himself.

“Basketball should be used to relieve stress and pressure, rather than provide that. I try and remind myself that before games,” said Otchere. “I make sure to remember that I need to go out and have fun.”

A healthy mindset is also important when coming back from a loss or a tough game. Recently, the Marauders suffered back-to-back tough losses against Brock University and Western University on Jan. 30 and Feb. 2.

“It’s always hard coming back from a loss because you have to watch the film and look at your mistakes. Then you have to fix them before the next game,” said Otchere.

That’s what we’re talking about 😤💪 @sefa_otchere https://t.co/R7DfdZpImM

— McMaster Basketball (@mcmastermbb) January 19, 2019

“You need time to mourn the loss, in a sense,” added Quiring. “After that, you need to put it behind you and realize where you messed up, and then learn and move on.”

Otchere also had to prepare for his comeback after his injury earlier in the season.

“I felt like I had to get my [groove], and confidence back,” said Ochere. “I also had to do extra practices to physically get back into the game as well.

Going into the end of the regular season, the players have applied these techniques as a means for achieving their goals.

“Besides winning, we want to make it to the final four and get to nationals,” said Quiring. “[Coach] Patrick Tatham preaches consistency [and] sets up team and individual workouts to develop skills needed to achieve our goals.”

“We need to make it known that we are one of the best teams,” said Ochere. “[All of] my focus is towards playing right and making playoffs.”

It is evident that both mental and physical health are important towards the well-being of athletes. The McMaster men’s basketball team’s perseverance and passion for the game will definitely be reflected in the upcoming games and in their journey towards nationals.

 

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