People of Georgian: Coordinator a mental health champion

What’s your story?

The Georgian community is full of unique, inspiring perspectives —and we’re sharing them as part of an ongoing series.

People of Georgian: Meet Kate Henry

One thing I hear often that I wish people would have a different lens on is this notion that they don’t have any mental health.

When people say, “Oh, I’m good. I don’t need help. I don’t have mental health,” I think they’re trying to refer to a mental-illness diagnosis, but that’s different. We all have mental health.

It’s similar to how we have our physical health – our mental health can sometimes be good and sometimes it can be really crummy. If we all understood this, maybe more people would be inclined to have conversations about it, which could reduce the stigma around the topic and help people feel more comfortable getting help when they need it. 

A person standing outside in the summer smiles at the camera.
Kate is a Mental Health and Well-being Coordinator at Georgian.

Personally, I don’t have a diagnosis per se, but my mood is affected by seasonal weather, especially in the winter. When it’s dark and gloomy, I don’t feel like myself and almost borderline depressed.

I always thought of self-care as just making time to exercise, eat healthy food or take a bubble bath. They’re all good things for our well-being, but self-care can also be setting boundaries or saying “No.”

Self-care is about refilling your cup

For many years, I was a big people pleaser. I felt bad if I couldn’t do everything. But over the last few years, especially after I became a mom, I’ve become really comfortable with saying “No” without giving an excuse or apologizing.

Whatever it is that you do for self-care, it’s just about taking care of ourselves to refill our cups so that we’re not running on empty. If we’re running on empty, we’re not able to cope with life stressors as easily.

A person holds a toddler and smiles at them while standing in a gymnasium.
Kate and her son.

‘Being someone when they thought they didn’t have anybody’

I’m a registered social worker, and I got into it because I was exposed at a young age to a lot of people close to me who had mental health challenges, so that made me want to get into a helping profession.  

I always really liked being people’s rock and go-to person. Supporting people has always filled my bucket – being someone when they thought they didn’t have anybody.

Maybe down the road I’d like to try running a private practice on the side with one-to-one therapy, but I really, really love what I’m doing at Georgian. I get to build workshops and mental health literacy, helping students learn about coping strategies and tools they can use to minimize stress.

I always tell students to set up a self-care schedule in their calendars for the academic term or year. Time can get away from us, and if we’re going weeks without doing anything to take care of ourselves, that’s not helpful for our mental health. So even if it’s two minutes a day or once a week, schedule something to help refill your cup. It can be anything from watching a favourite TV show, to going for a walk, to saying “No” to plans if you need a rest.

Sometimes we, as human beings, like to try to do everything and it’s just not possible. It’s OK to say “No.”

A person holds a toddler and smiles at them while standing in a gymnasium.
Kate at Georgian on Bell Let’s Talk this year.

Peer supporters and other resources at Georgian

My hope is that people know how to access all the resources we have at Georgian ahead of any crisis. One really great resource is our peer supporters because sometimes students feel more comfortable connecting with other students because they share lived experiences.

I hope that people continue to understand that we all have mental health.

We all have days where we don’t feel good and that’s OK, and we all have days where we’re feeling good and maybe that’s when we can support others around us.

Kate Henry, Mental Health and Well-being Coordinator at Georgian College.

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