Students receiving massages by registered massage therapists Melody Lau / GAZETTE

Even though number of open discussions on campus surrounding the importance of physical and mental wellness continues to rise, some women still feel uncomfortable discussing personal health issues, often resorting to Google or leaving their questions unanswered.  

On March 5, three Western University student organizations — Western's Women in Leadership, Women’s Issues Network and Her Campus Western — joined forces to bring light to these issues by hosting the first-ever Women’s Wellness Symposium in the Mustang Lounge.

Holly Dunne, a third-year environmental science student and President of Western's Women in Leadership, hopes that the event will leave a lasting impression. She hopes students will feel encouraged to increase their knowledge base and feel more comfortable discussing issues surrounding women's wellness with peers and health professionals.

With the overarching theme of holistic health and wellness, the event featured an engaging panel, informational booths on taking care of one's body and mind, and recreational fitness tutorials.

The event was centred around a special, one-hour wellness panel which invited both Western students and members of the London community to discuss societal struggles faced by women. A conversation was sparked about how women should not be ashamed to talk about their menstruation, the stigma surrounding working moms and embracing body image.

Rachel Ettinger, Virgin Radio London’s morning announcer, served as the panel moderator and light-heartedly bounced around ideas while also offering day-to-day advice alongside three experts in diverse fields of health care: Gillian Mandich, a PhD candidate in health promotion at Western University; Emma Jack, an owner of a physiotherapy clinic; and Jillian Walsh, a registered dietician.

Students actively listening to the Wellness Panel. Melody Lau / GAZETTE

Multiple interactive booths advocating self-care also filled the Mustang Lounge, including free five to 10 minute massages, DIY natural face scrubs and dry shampoo stations. 

Ashorina Barkho, a second-year medical science student, appreciated the “Pads 4 People” booth, which was organized by a group that collects feminine hygiene products for homeless people and that hopes to be recognized as a club at Western soon.

“I like ... the acknowledgement that we need to uplift girls because obviously there is gender inequality. The ‘Pads 4 People’ representatives said that pads are always acquainted with women, but there are also transgender men and non-binary people,” said Barkho. “So just the acknowledgment of the people that are undergoing all of [this] prejudice, coming together and helping each other is what I think this event is about.”