News & Events

OVC THRIVE and Let’s THRIVE Week 2017

February 27, 2017

OVC THRIVE is the Ontario Veterinary College’s (OVC) new student club this year. THRIVE stands for “Teaching Healthy Resilience in the Veterinary Environment,” and was built on three main goals; creating an open and accepting culture regarding mental health, encouraging students to prioritize self-care, and providing tangible resources to help students build resilience.

An important part of achieving these goals is collaborating with other Campus groups and resources. So far, we have worked with the University of Guelph Wellness Education Centre and the OVC Peer Helpers on a variety of events. In addition, our faculty advisors are all five members of the newly formed research group at OVC – The AWAR2E Team (Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Research and Education), and therefore we are closely connected with those conducting the most current mental health research.

Our year’s biggest undertaking was organizing Let’s THRIVE Week, OVC’s first mental health awareness week, which took place January 30 – February 3, 2017. The events were designed to help meet our goals, and included:

1. Distributing mental health resource kits

2. The “One Voice Come Together” wall, where students and staff were encouraged to anonymously post their personal mental health experiences as a visual display. This opened the conversation and demonstrated that mental health affects more people than you may expect.

3. A “Paint Nite” event to socialize and exercise creativity (a proven stress reliever!).

4. “OVC Opens Up: A panel discussion” where four students and two  faculty members discussed their personal mental health struggles and how they worked toward recovery.

5. A curling bonspiel encouraging physical activity, teamwork, and stress relief.

6. The “I am Also” campaign where students wrote what they “are” in addition to being a veterinary student, and then stuck them on a banner. This encouraged students view their identities as multifaceted, rather than solely about being a veterinary student, which is what we sometimes tend to do.

One of the week’s most important aspects, which we could not have achieved without our generous sponsors, was all these events were FREE, increasing accessibility and attendance.

For Bell Let’s Talk day, which was a week before Let’s THRIVE Week, we launched our social media campaign called Humans of OVC (modeled after the Humans of New York Facebook page). On the OVC THRIVE Facebook page and Instagram, we shared pictures of OVC students or staff members and attached their “story.” This was a very successful campaign that we are continuing to get contributions for!

The OVC staff and students’ feedback from this week was remarkable; opening different avenues for sharing personal experiences was monumental, and felt as if it opened the floodgates. We are now aware of the magnitude of students’ struggles, resulting in two things: people feel less alone in their struggles, and everyone is more compassionate and empathetic to those around them. We are hoping to continue the openness that Let’s THRIVE Week brought to OVC and continue working toward reducing the stigma surrounding mental health.

View more pictures from Let’s THRIVE Week on our Facebook or follow our Instagram @ovc.thrive.

Written by Ms. Shannon Finn, DVM student at the Ontario Veterinary College (sfinn@mail.uoguelph.ca).