I first showed up to Kaleidoscope — a peer mental health support group at UBC — because not only did I want to avoid the whole “you never know until you try” lecture from my therapist, but also because deep down, I knew that my hesitation stemmed from fear. I wasn’t thrilled at the idea of “bonding” with a bunch of strangers over mental health-related matters, but I took comfort in the fact that at least I’d get a free slice of pizza. I was completely unaware that I'd soon learn to love these meetings, but I showed up anyway — here's four reasons why you should consider it, too.
Mental health affects ALL of us
Kaleidoscope is a student-run mental health support group, but I’d like to clarify that you do not have to suffer from a mental illness to attend. Mental health affects all of us one way or another, so everyone is welcome and every topic is fair game.
Want to talk about your recent breakup? Go for it. Feel like ranting about having too many assignments due in one week? Let’s hear it. Stressed out about cooking by yourself? So am I.
Yes, topics like diagnosis and treatment of mental illness are discussed at times, but most often we talk about the challenges we all face as university students. The group provides a safe, non-judgmental space where you can talk about anything you’d like, including both difficulties and small victories.
No to unsolicited advice, yes to active listening
I’m the kind of person who gets frustrated when others subtly — or not so subtly — try to give me unsolicited advice. Sometimes all I need is for someone to listen to what I have to say without getting interrupted. Hence, attending Kaleidoscope does not only give you the chance to share however much you’re comfortable with, but also provides you with the opportunity to learn from other people's personal experiences as well.
A sense of belonging
All the people I’ve met so far have been so genuine, sweet and honest that it’s impossible not to admire their emotional resilience and get inspired. They’re students like you and me who value the power of skilled, empathetic listening and offer well-intended guidance when needed.
Their stories serve as powerful reminders that you are not alone. To me, the beauty of attending this group comes from hearing two words: “Me too.”
I used to scoff at the idea of attending a peer support group, rarely giving the posters displayed all over campus a second glance. Nonetheless, attending Kaleidoscope on a weekly basis has become an important part of my self-care routine.
Making the decision to show up can be terrifying — I know that. It requires vulnerability and stepping out of your comfort zone. But honestly, we’re just a bunch of students who connect with each other while eating pizza.
Kaleidoscope’s meeting times change depending on the time of year, but right now they are Tuesdays at 5 p.m. in Buchanan D 205. I hope to see you there and chat over a slice!