The University of Calgary is gearing up for two weeks of wellness events at its annual UFlourish expo. Running from Nov. 1 to 15, the series aims to help participants de-stress, connect with others and build positive coping skills.
UFlourish is a whole-campus initiative, organized by Student Wellness Services (SWS) and Staff Wellness, with support from the Campus Mental Health Strategy (CMHS).
This year's UFlourish is dedicated to fostering positive mental health and resilience within the campus community through a diverse range of online and in-person events and activities, all designed to enhance understanding, awareness and the ability to promote improved mental well-being among students, faculty, staff and the wider community.
It’s also a time where our community can engage in the renewal of the CMHS through surveys and in-person consultation. Find out all the ways you can engage below.
UFlourish events and activities
This year’s UFlourish features a host of offerings including workshops and trainings in neurodiversity resources and supports, mindfulness, consent, supporting others in distress, suicide prevention, grief and loss, substance-use recovery, and much more. There will also be panels and discussions on culture and mental health, food security, faith and well-being, and other topics.
In partnership with the Office of Sustainability, this year's UFlourish will also address the pressing issue of climate change and climate anxiety through a guided presentation and discussion, followed by an optional restorative creative expression session.
Free Active Living memberships will be available to all faculty and staff for the duration of UFlourish (students already have memberships included in their general fees). As well, this year the Dinos are offering a 50 per cent discount code to a basketball game (students again get in free to these, anyway!).
To further support the mental health and well-being of our community, UCalgary’s mental health teams have created an activity book that will be available at pop-up engagement events throughout the expo and is also available online. This versatile resource includes a gratitude reflection, self-care plan, stress strategies — even stress-reducing colouring pages — and more.
UFlourish ties in with Campus Mental Health Strategy renewal
As UCalgary looks toward renewing its commitments to mental health and well-being, the director of the CMHS, Dr. Andrew Szeto, PhD, sees UFlourish as a key way to engage with the campus community.
“UFlourish is a great example of how the CMHS comes to life,” he says. “Through new collaborations and connections made across our campus, awareness-building of our many existing supports and trainings, and seeing so many of our community members check-in with themselves and others, we model components of a psychologically safe environment and demonstrate a commitment to the mental health and well-being of our community."
UFlourish also demonstrates UCalgary’s growth and commitment, seeing mental health and well-being as holistic, says Dr. Penny Werthner, interim provost and vice-president (academic).
Werthner adds that, by promoting various ways of supporting well-being, such as supporting our spirit through eco-grief sessions, our physical body through a variety of exercise and movement options, and our social well-being through in-person events, we can empower our community to become more mental-health literate and build their supports and strengths throughout their studies and careers on- and off-campus.
Szeto is excited about the next step in the CMHS journey, which is seeing the strategy — originally launched in 2015 with six strategic focus areas and 28 recommendations — undergoing renewal.
“It’s been eight years since we collaboratively built this guiding document,” he says. “It’s come alive in so many creative and impactful ways, but a lot has changed. We’ve been encouraged by our community’s engagement with this big, complex topic that affects the post-secondary space so uniquely.”
So far, the CMHS-renewal journey has included data gathering through surveys and evaluations, and meaningful engagement with members of UCalgary’s staff, faculty and students. A new draft of the strategy’s new guiding principles is now ready for review, and a survey and in-person feedback sessions are now open for those who’d like to give feedback on the renewal.
During UFlourish, CMHS staff and partners will be in the Taylor Family Digital Library for in-person engagements. Stop by to pick up a copy of the UFlourish activitiy notebook, grab some refreshments and chat about the strategy’s renewal, Oct. 30, 9-11 a.m., Nov. 6, 12-2 p.m., or Nov. 9, 2-4 p.m.
For more information and to explore the range of unique offerings during UFlourish 2023, visit the website.