My experiences at Mindfest 2015

Good day all, As you may know, October is Mental Wellness Month at UofT. I hope you've had a chance to experience some of the events and initiatives that have taken place so far on campus. This past week, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the 3rd annual Mindfest 2015! The event was comprised of three parts this year, including a film screening on Oct 5th, a mental health resource fair on Oct 7th, and a Mindfulness Walk from UofT to Ryerson University to cap off the festivities. In case you missed the event, here are my highlights!
Mindfest is an opportunity to "Participate, Educate, and Celebrate!"
Mindfest is an opportunity for attendees to  learn more about mental health!
  1. "Rocks in my Pockets" Film Screening, TIFF Bell Lightbox (October 5, 2015)
(Madelin's Rating: 5 stars, A+, must-watch on for my spoiler-free review below!) Mindfest held it’s kickoff event at TIFF Bell Lightbox for a film screening of the animated film Rocks in my Pockets, followed by a panel discussion with the director/producer Signe Baumane.
I definitely felt like a VIP at this private TIFF screening of the film with the producer in attendance.
The film was a whimsical depiction of the producer’s personal experiences dealing with mental illness and suicide in her family. After the screening, the producer spoke candidly about the stigma of being an artist, coupled with the stigma of growing up with a mental illness in a post-Soviet nation. However, she also emphasized how her struggles in life helped influence and define her creative process. Her story, though somewhat fantastically illustrated, is one I feel many people will be able to relate to. Although "mental illness" is a concept that can seem scary at times, Signe Baumane shows that there is comfort in addressing mental illness together. By the way, if you are interested in the medium of film and want to learn more about mental health, come join us for 'Movies for Mental Health' Workshop on October 14th in the Hart House Debates Room from 11-1pm. There will be short films on the topic of mental health, a panel discussion, and FREE food! How can you say no to that?
  1. Mindfest Resource Fair, Hart House (October 7, 2015)
In my opinion, what was most exciting about Mindfest was that it brought together a diverse number of resources, workshops, and thinkers on OUR campus for free. That's pretty cool if you ask me.
Mindset took place at beautiful Hart House
Mindfest took place at beautiful Hart House
In addition, I just love Hart House so much. They have a Weekly Wellness Series that I think you will love too. The Mindfest Resource Fair was open to the general public including university students, high school students, staff, faculty, and community members. It was really nice to speak to people who were in attendance simply because they really valued learning about mental health. Many attendees had in fact taken the entire day off just so they could participate during the event. I think this attitude of prioritizing one's mental wellbeing is inspiring. If you haven't yet, check out Emma's post about how she prioritizes her mental wellbeing.
  1. Mindfulness Walk and Ryerson University Finale Celebration (October 7, 2015)
The highlight of my day was the group walk from Hart House to Ryerson University
The highlight of my day was the Mindfulness Walk from Hart House to Ryerson University.
The Mindfulness Walk from UofT to Ryerson University was a fitting end to Mindfest. Attendees got a chance to experience walking together while being mindful of their bodies, environment, and inner thoughts. The challenge was to constantly redirect my attention to the present moment and being cautious to not walk into any unmindful poles, vehicles, or buildings - all the while trying to navigate the busy streets of downtown Toronto! Once we reached Ryerson University, the day finished off with addresses by representatives of UofT Psychiatry, Ryerson University and OCAD University, and a low-key celebration which included cake!
Mindfest cake was enjoyed mindfully by all
Mindfest cake was enjoyed mindfully by all
All in all, Mindfest was a huge success!  In case you missed out, don't worry as there is a lot more programming taking place across campus throughout October Mental Wellness Month! Be sure to check out the full calendar here.   Try doing your own mindfullness walk this week (before the cold weather makes it a mindfullness run!) Taking long, mindful walks is a strategy I regularly use on campus when I’m feeling unwell, and you can too. It is so easy to do on our campus! If you are going to walk anywhere soon, may I also strongly suggest you walk past the William's Sonoma store on Bloor Street East. It smells like pumpkin and spice. On that note, Happy Thanksgiving and #BeWellUofT! Madelin      

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