Orientation and First Weeks
My first day mostly consisted of meeting and interacting with others in the clinic. Although it is natural to be stressed on your first day in a new environment, those interactions were comforting and welcoming, which helped me settle into my new role. The first few weeks involved familiarizing myself with Hi-FIVE, knowing different teams within the SFU Health & Counselling department and their valuable roles in supporting students’ wellbeing, and receiving training on administrative and other duties.
Learning and Adaptation
This role has been a great opportunity for me to learn more about mental health in a professional setting. In the beginning, I was not sure how to communicate mental health knowledge to students, considering the stigma surrounding it. But at some point, with the support of my supervisors, other teams within the department, and Hi-FIVE Volunteers, I was able to recognize the gaps in communicating mental health knowledge and come up with plans that could take a positive step towards spreading awareness about mental health and destigmatizing mental illnesses through different means of communication.
Accomplishments and Challenges
There were two main areas that I found challenging as I took on this role: First, as this was a communications job posting, I was concerned that it might not align with my educational and career goals, and it might not be an optimal health-related experience I was looking for. Second, I was unsure about taking on an 8-month co-op position, as it sounded like a very long time. As time passed, I learned more about the importance of health communication and health promotion, and how ‘an optimal health-related experience’ can have many different formats and objectives. This experience allowed me to obtain a more holistic approach towards addressing students’ mental wellbeing, which is beyond what I initially anticipated.
A positive co-op experience is not possible without a supportive team. I want to extend my thanks to my supervisors, Jaclyn Hayward and Lyndsay Cotterall, the Health Promotion team, the Counselling team, my coworkers at the co-op office, Hi-FIVE Volunteers, and all other individuals at SFU Health & Counselling Services who made this experience invaluable.