Healthy Minds Healthy College

News and Events

Movies for Mental Health: Join Us Virtually

September 22, 2020

On October 21 RRC is hosting Movies for Mental Health, a virtual workshop that uses the power of film to unite folks in community, connection, and conversation. This FREE event is delivered by a non-profit called Art With Impact and will be hosted online.

The interactive, online experience will feature an anonymous, chat-based discussion on mental health, the stigma that frequently surrounds mental illness, and media portrayals of mental health issues.

Following this will be a live screening of three award-winning short films and therapeutic activities to consciously connect minds and bodies.

The event will culminate in a panel of lived-experience speakers and mental health resources, empowering us to share our own stories and access support available to us in these uncertain times.

Last year, students who attended found the workshop helped increase awareness of mental health, reduce stigma, and improve knowledge about where to go for help.

The Details

Date: Wednesday, October 21

Time: 1-3 pm

Location: Online! Register here.

For any questions or accessibility needs, please contact Amy.

This event is sponsored by the Healthy Minds Healthy College Initiative and RRC Students’ Association. All students and staff are welcome.

Want to Share Your Story?

We’re looking for a student participate the panel discussion. By volunteering your time and expertise, you play a crucial role in creating an event that will reduce the stigma around mental illness and encourage others to seek the help they need.

Being a Student Panelist

As a student panelist, your role is to share a real, lived-experience story to show the power that live storytelling can have in reducing mental health stigmas. Your generosity in talking about your experiences – the good parts and the bad – will actively help your peers to overcome their own inhibitions that might prevent them from getting help. You are living, breathing proof that recovery and healing are possible and that mental wellness is real and attainable!

As you begin to put together your five-minute story, we invite you to reflect on what your main message is – what you’d like the audience to take away from your story. That can help guide you as you decide what you’d like to share. It can also be helpful to decide what pieces of your story, if any, you’d prefer not to share. You are in charge of what you share, and there is no pressure to go beyond what is comfortable for you.

If you’re interested in this opportunity, please contact Breanna today.

Volunteer Information Session Today

September 22, 2020

A Volunteer Advisory Group member helps with a planning session, prior to remote learning.

Don’t miss our Volunteer Information Session!

Learn about how you can assist our Healthy Minds Healthy College initiative by devoting ten volunteer hours.

All hours will be completed remotely, with plenty of training and support. Students will use and enhance a variety of skills in the roles of:

  • Ambassador
  • Advisory Group Member

The Volunteer Information Session will be held on Wednesday, September 23, from 12:00 – 12:40. Register here!

Can’t attend? Register anyway and we’ll send you the recording.

The First Thrive Event of the Year: A Virtual Paint Night!

September 15, 2020

Create your own version of this painting on Sept. 24

Take a break from the grind and explore your creative side at our first THRIVE event of this academic year.

Kisa MacIsaac, RRC grad and owner of Power of Painting, will (virtually) lead you through an evening of self-care as you create your very own Autumn themed painting.

THRIVE events encourage balance and self-care that in turn supports good mental health. All THRIVE events are offered at no charge to participants and are open to staff, students, and faculty.

The Details

Date: Thursday, September 24

Time: 7-9pm

Platform: WebEx

Register here.

Need Supplies?

For this virtual paint night, you’re welcome to use your own supplies or sign up to borrow a supply pack. Supply packs will include the canvas, paint, and brushes and can be picked up at your campus between September 22 and 24. Brushes and unused paint must be returned to your campus by October 1.

We have a limited number of supply packs, so be sure to register early.

There’s ample evidence that taking time to express yourself through creativity in a social group improves mental health and overall well-being. Don’t miss this chance to make yourself a priority.

A portrait of Kisa MacIsaacMore on the Instructor

Kisa MacIsaac (she/her) is Métis, a mother, artist, educator, and a RRC graduate (ECE diploma 2005). She works in a non profit early learning and child care program in Winnipeg’s inner city, and leads wellness painting events as well as creating custom artworks. Making art is medicine – it has the power reduce stress and anxiety, it is relaxing. Everyone can make art, it’s all about letting go of fear and just creating and going with the flow!
Check out: Power of Painting – Workshops and Art by Kisa
IG: @powerofpainting204

Learn About Virtual Volunteer Opportunities!

September 8, 2020

Are you a student who is looking for service learning opportunities? Want to support mental health at RRC? We’re searching for students who can devote ten hours to our Healthy Minds, Healthy College Initiative.

Former nursing student and volunteer, Rakesh.

All hours will be completed remotely, with plenty of training and support. Students will use and enhance a variety of skills in the roles of:

  •  Ambassador
  • Advisory Group Member

To learn more about these opportunities, please attend the Volunteer Information Session on Wednesday, September 23, from 12:00 – 12:40. Register here!

Can’t attend? Register anyway and we’ll send you the recording.

Come work with us to improve mental health at RRC!

Keeping Resilience While Social Distancing: How to be responsible while still looking out for your own mental wellbeing

August 31, 2020


Guest post by our friends at BEACON.

As a term that seems to have sprung up overnight, Social Distancing is on everyone’s minds. And for good reason – with the threat of COVID-19 looming, we’re all doing what we can to maintain our (and everyone else’s) physical wellbeing. But in times of self-isolation and generally trying to maintain our personal space, there can be significant consequences for our mental health.

It’s so crucial to strike a balance between our mental and physical wellbeing. This advice will help to maintain meaningful connections during these challenging times.

Tell Others How You’re Feeling

Let people around you know that you feel scared. By saying, “This really scary. I’m super anxious” and having someone respond by saying, “Yes, this is scary. I feel scared too,” it will help you feel closer to those around you – even if you can’t do much to change the situation. This will make you more resilient and able to handle the stress.

Limit the Attention You’re Paying

A lot of the reason so many of us feel so afraid is because of the amount of attention we are paying to it. Other illnesses spread as well, but they don’t get reported in the news and we’re used to living with them; this isn’t a risk we’re used to living with, so we we’re paying it a lot of attention.

Be Aware of Social Influences

The social contagion phenomenon is when people get ideas from each other; if one person says something is important, we calibrate to each other. The reactions of people around us are very powerful, and it’s easy for us to get swept up by groupthink. Be aware of who increases your anxiety and who decreases it – and set boundaries if you have to.

• • •

Living in the time of a pandemic is not something we’ve ever had to do before, and it stands to reason that this new problem will bring about new strategies like Social Distancing. For some, social isolation may already compound the stress and anxiety that COVID-19 inspires in us, but it is vastly important that we all work hard to take equal care of our mental wellbeing – while helping others do the same.

How to Not Feel Helpless: Managing what we can and cannot control in times of crisis

June 2, 2020


Guest post by our friends at BEACON. 

When it feels like bad news is an everyday occurrence, it can be a difficult and challenging experience. For many, the stress and anxiety that come along with this may also be accompanied by the feeling that we’re losing control, that we’re powerless, and we lack the resilience to properly cope – extreme situations tend to bring about extreme reactions.

Even when the news seems bleak, it’s crucial to maintain a sense of perspective. There will always be things that we can and cannot control in life – it’s often a question of how much we worry and obsess over the things that we have little or no control over, that can cause the most anxiety.


There are ways, however, to manage these things, and maintain a healthy outlook.

Compare Your Troubling Thoughts with Reality

Be aware of thoughts that you’re having and the extent to which those thoughts correspond to reality – and to the reality of your family and your immediate circle. If you have thoughts about people getting sick or about the news being more than you can handle, counter that by remembering that there’s a good chance that no one you know has COVID-19.

And if you do know someone who does have it, remind yourself that you can’t control the outcome. Practice realistic thinking limited to people you know personally, rather than about people from other cities who we don’t know.

Focus Your Attention Elsewhere

Find activities and things to do that are enjoyable, and that won’t bring your attention back to thinking about stressful events such as the coronavirus pandemic. It seems like when people talk, they often spend the whole time doing so about their anxiety and discussing worst-case scenarios. Make a point of having conversations about other topics, and consider designating talking about coronavirus as “off-limits” for a while.

Don’t Overwhelm Yourself with News

Try to limit the news that you consume, both in terms of the amount of time spent and from certain sources. You’re unlikely to miss anything important, so there’s no need to spend an excessive amount of time reading articles that all say the same thing.

Make sure that the sources you’re reading from are scientifically-based and reliable – that kind of news is likely to not change very quickly.

• • •

It’s never easy to deal with bad news and trying times, but it’s also important to know that there are always things you can do to limit the stress and worry you may feel. But remember that freaking out or panicking doesn’t help the situation; calm thinking will actually help with better decision making.  It can be easy to get swept up into a state of panic but at the end of the day, we’re better equipped to make good decisions if we remain calm.

A Final #COVIDkindness Story

May 26, 2020

As the academic year winds down for most programs, we share our final #COVIDkindness story. Those who participated will be contacted soon regarding the promised prizes. Despite the campaign coming to a close, we encourage you to continue practicing kindness in whatever ways you can. After all, it’s kindness, innovation, and teamwork that will get us through this.

Remember, paying attention to the kind acts you see around you and practicing kindness yourself will help strengthen your wellbeing and resilience. So keep making kindness and gratitude a priority.

From Manvir Kaur, BAM student, Portage La Prairie Campus

“Since this #COVIDkindness movement started, I searched a lot and looked everywhere to notice something that could I send as #COVIDkindness, but unluckily when we search something it’s never found on time. Just like whenever we are in a rush and looking for a hair brush and it is somewhere at home, but you can’t find it on time. Eventually, I received an email, that was from our college and it says, ‘you don’t need to pay for the laptop that you borrowed from the college and the money from you student loan account is 0’. Finally, I got something great for this #COVIDkindness. I was so happy and want to thank College management for this act.”

If you’re interested in developing a daily gratitude practice as a coping tool, check out the Three Good Things exercise outlined by the Greater Good Science Centre at UC Berkley. This is a powerful and evidence based strategy for cultivating good mental health. Whether you work on a formal practice or not, remember to notice the kindness around you.


How I Completed My Diploma During a Pandemic: One student’s story

May 8, 2020

Guest post by RRC student, Stuart Maddocks

The COVID-19 pandemic was one of the hardest experiences I have faced as a student. It disrupted my routine of having to leave my home to sit in a classroom with my friends and classmates. Additionally, being at home made me more distracted than I would be in the classroom. To overcome these challenges, I had a few strategies to help me get through the rest of my program. Here are some highlights of the methods I used to complete my final year as a Red River College Library and Information Technology student.

RRC Student, Stuart Maddocks

Work on Mental Fitness

For my first strategy, I used the Headspace meditation app. This application is a subscription-based service that provides meditation and yoga exercises for overcoming negative feelings. Exercises on Headspace range from simple guided meditations to “Everyday Exercises” with a different theme each day. As a student, I love Headspace’s student support section which covers topics from presentation stress to job interview anxiety. These exercises helped me get a good night’s sleep after a stressful day of online learning.

Current and future students can visit Headspace at: or download the Headspace app on Apple Store or Google Play.

Get Moving

In addition to Headspace, I exercised at least 30 minutes each day. I would go for walks around my neighbourhood and through parks. It helped me get some fresh air after an intense study session. Walking outside provided me a change in scenery away from my usual surroundings at home. These daily exercises also helped me stretched my legs after sitting at my desk for a few hours. Lastly, walking helped me be more active with the gym being unavailable during the pandemic.

Reward Yourself

As a Red River College Alumnus, I cannot stress enough the importance of awarding yourself. In my case, I would watch movies after I complete assignments. Additionally, watching movies allowed me to escape my day to day life from the stresses of the pandemic and college life. I usually watch escapist movies from the Star Wars or James Bond franchises. The locations and settings transported me to another world for a much-needed distraction.

I hope these strategies will be useful for you when you are studying or starting your careers.

If you are an RRC student, staff or alumnus who would like to write a guest post, please contact Breanna Sawatzky.


Social Isolation and Loneliness: A Pandemic Outcome?

April 28, 2020

Reflections from RRC Counsellor, Mark Unruh

The experience of loneliness and isolation has inspired much research over the years. On the surface, the terms isolation and loneliness can appear to be synonymous. Looking closer, isolation may very well lead to loneliness, but is it the main cause of feeling lonely?

A national survey in June 2019 by Angus Reid Institute (in partnership with Cardus) attempted to qualify these two dimensions. The resulting report describes social isolation as the number or frequency of interpersonal connections a person has and loneliness as the relative satisfaction with the quality of those connections.

So, isolation can be thought of as an “objective” measure. In the context of the 2020 pandemic, restrictions can limit our interactions. Loneliness, however, is the subjective experience one has despite the context of where and how these connection are experienced. In this context, social isolation may very well affect the quality of those connections, but is it the main cause of loneliness?

The report goes on to describe the relationship between those who connect in more limited ways with people in their own homes and those who extend their connection experiences more broadly. In summary, they conclude that many people who are not isolated still experience loneliness.

The media and social discourse often portray isolation in the wake of this pandemic as the precursor to loneliness, using descriptors like desolation, solitude or trapped. The implication being that social distancing practices are the culprit.

The Angus Reid report supports this view in part, but there must be more to the story since a significant portion of the population are lonely while not isolated. And remember, this study was completed prior to the pandemic. So, how do social distancing and isolation practices influence the degree of loneliness many people are already experiencing?

Learning from research in this area, we can see this time of isolation as our opportunity to focus on the “how” of connecting. By doing this, we can aim to improve the quality of our connections, despite being separated. During this pandemic, we can improve our subjective experience of connection in many ways. We see this occurring already through news reports and in our own experience. The musician who plays for children outside their window, moving from neighbor to neighbor to play another song. The friend who cooks a meal and leaves it on the doorstep for another and then connects by video to share the same food. These are just two examples.

What have you noticed about your way of adapting how you connect in these unprecedented times? What will you be willing to venture as we settle in for ever changing restrictions into the future?

Of course, nothing will ever replace human connection in physical social settings. As we see stories of connection emerging in other ways, it reveals our ability to adapt and connect while we isolate. This is the inoculation that protects us during these pandemic times.

For some opprtunities to stay connected with your RRC community, check out the Recreation Services news.


Students, Request a Telephone Wellness Check Today

April 21, 2020

RRC Counsellor, Lindsay Storey-Iliffe, ready to support students.

Sometimes, when faced with new challenges it helps to talk things out with an understanding, supportive person. That’s why RRC now offers telephone Wellness Checks.

Simply complete this secure online form, and a Counselling Services team member will call you for a brief, supportive conversation. During the call, you will be invited to express how you’re doing and you’ll receive empathic, non-judgmental support. If needed, you may also be directed to other helpful resources.

You don’t have to go through this alone; we’re here for you.

If you need more support than a telephone Wellness Check can offer, there are a range of other services available to you. Learn more.