Mental health graph, designed for the awareness and importance of mental health. (Daniel Salas/AQ)

When people hear the words “mental health,” most would think of mental illness, therapy or self care. The St. Thomas University Mental Health Society is changing up the game by adding trivia and movie nights to that list.

The society hosted its first-ever trivia night on Oct. 15 at the Cellar Pub and Grill in the Student Union Building to encourage students to take time for themselves and open up a safe and educational discussion around mental health.

“These types of events are what helps people to relax and destress and also these fun and relaxing spaces bring a good opportunity for the discussion,” said Kristina Iurchenko, the special projects coordinator of the society.

Iurchenko said the event was extremely successful, noting that the Cellar was full of people who participated, even if it wasn’t the original reason they came. The society also held the event online and had around 100 participants join virtually.

Those who participated did not leave empty handed. The three top teams received prizes and gift cards as a reward for their efforts. Iurchenko said the society also received donations and plenty of good feedback from students.

Iurchenko was glad to hear the positive feedback because one of the main goals of the society is to create a safe space for students and to promote self-care.

“Students often feel that mental health is less important than their physical health,” she said. “Oftentimes, students hide their troubles and avoid talking about their mental health, which is very damaging for their lives and has a very negative impact.”

For Iurchenko, the society is a personal passion project. Like most students, she said she struggled with her mental health and went through “less than ideal treatments.”

Iurchenko wants to minimize bad experiences that others may have with mental health and focus her energy into a good cause.

“This is very personal. I’m hoping to make a change at STU,” said Iurchenko.

Other than the trivia night, the society also hosts movie nights, hands out self-care packages during exam week and presents its annual “Elephant in the Room” event.

“It is a serious, and sometimes hard, conversation, but we think it’s important to have it so people will be inspired to share their stories and understand that it’s normal,” said Iurchenko.