Thompson Rivers University

Why Y-Minds: a participant’s perspective

January 27, 2020

Ethan Panasiuk, Student Services' Communications & Marketing WorkStudy student shares his insights on the impact of the Y-Minds Program.

I attended Y-Minds because my experience with stress and anxiety had no end in sight. My inability to enjoy life and handle life’s complications made me fear for my long-term mental health. I had many foreboding thoughts and believed that I was a prisoner sentenced to a life sentence of anxiety.

Self-pity began to overwhelm my capacity for resilience and optimism. This pity especially became an even bigger issue when doctors and therapists had affirmed that I was doing everything right in terms including diet, sleep, exercise and stress management, but still nothing improved.

I was losing hope, and had become to accept that how I felt was permanent; this was just life now. I still had two years left in my program, and I felt like all my anxiety would not go away unless I found some techniques that worked for me.

I was very enthusiastic about Y-Minds from start to finish. Everybody in the group was always supportive, although everyone was timid and shy on the first day. Throughout the course, the counsellors shared many coping strategies and provided space to speak up if we felt comfortable to do so. Counselors Sharon Munk and Susan Butland led the Y-Minds sessions, and while they often offered tips and techniques, they were always open to hearing new insights and information.

To my surprise, one of the most helpful things about Y Minds was the fact that I had the gift of one hour per week where I had no choice but to either be present in our meeting or do some colouring.

These meetings allowed me to press pause on my life, so I was able to forgive myself for not taking that time to study.

Y-Minds helped me recognize the importance of a balanced life. It’s difficult to be objective about how heavy your workload can be. The program permitted me to listen to my friends and family who told me I was doing too much. I was able to implement what I learned in Y-Minds to add a breathing exercise as well as one meditation technique that created a meaningful routine.

One of the most helpful things about the weekly Y Minds session was the fact that I could to press pause on my life, be present and focus on my mental health. Learning to accept my anxiety helped me cope with it, which was the most valuable takeaway for me. The counsellors explored many coping strategies and provided space to speak up if you needed.

Also, there was food at these sessions, which is always a bonus.

One year later, and I’ve come to realize that slowing down can feel like the hardest thing, but it’s an essential part of helping me get where I am today. I’m beyond happy I took this break and identified that I needed to lower my stress to remain positive and productive. I owe a great deal to the Y-Minds program. I owe a great deal to the Y-Minds program and to Sharon and Susan, who were unwavering in their support and would always listen to our situations before offering insight or helping us to reflect.

Whatever your motive or learning style, Y-Minds can provide the tools to gain some control over your anxiety.

For more information on Y-Mind Mindfulness Groups, as well as other mental-health workshops, contact Counselling at 250-828-5023 or

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