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Friendship Bench Installation marks Sheridan commitment to mental health awareness

Jan 20, 2017
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Sheridan’s Health and Counselling department has teamed up with the Sheridan Student Union to bring mental health to the forefront and prompt discussion and awareness of mental health issues among our students.  Next week, the partners will install Friendship Benches at each of Sheridan’s campuses in Oakville, Mississauga and Brampton. 

The Friendship Bench is an initiative launched in 2015 by Sam Fiorella, who was inspired to take action after the death of his son, Lucas, in October 2014.  Lucas took his own life after suffering in secret with depression for several years.  Fiorella established the Friendship Bench as a non-profit organization with the goal of promoting conversation among young people about mental health, with a view to reducing the staggering incidence of suicide among young people – now the second leading cause of death for those aged 15 – 24.

These bright yellow benches are intended to catch the eye of passersby, encouraging them to look up from their phones and engage in face-to-face communication.  “If we can connect as a community, slow down, say hello to one another and thereby create a friendly and welcoming environment, then wellness is heightened on campus,” says Marissa Amoroso, Senior Manager of Health and Counselling Services.

Reducing stigma around mental health is another key objective, according to Student Union President,Sylvia Ibrahim.  “We hope the benches will be a campus destination where students who are struggling to connect with others and find it difficult to ask for help can talk with someone willing to offer an ear to listen,” she says.

The installations are scheduled to take place at 1:00 pm on the following dates:

Trafalgar Road Campus – Monday, January 23

Davis Campus – Tuesday, January 24

Hazel McCallion Campus, Wednesday, January 25

Each event will feature speakers from Health and Wellness Services and the Student Union.  Wednesday’s event is particularly significant as it coincides with Bell Let’s Talk Day, a nationwide event focused on mental health awareness.  The events will be augmented by a social media campaign, using the hashtag #yellowisforhello, designed to promote interaction among individuals and support a positive global message.

Media Contacts:

Susan Atkinson                                                                                 Mia Fatrdla 

Manager, Media Relations                                                                 Senior Manager, Marketing & Communications

Sheridan                                                                                            Sheridan Student Union

905-815-4073     `                                                                              905-845-9430 x 2305 


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