A speed skater and two time Olympian was at Red Deer College last week, hoping to help break the stigma around mental health.  

Anastasia Bucsis helped the college kick off its Make Some Noise for Mental Health campaign at the Kings and Queens basketball games on Friday.

The nation-wide campaign is an Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference initiative, to encourage understanding while promoting campus and community resources.

Bucsis said she struggled with her identity and anxiety before being diagnosed with clinical depression in 2013.

With the added pressure that comes with being an athlete, Bucsis explained that she tries to focus on what she has control over.

“I’ve really experienced a huge connection between physical well-being and mental health,” Bucsis said.

“Am I getting enough fresh air, am I exercising, the company that I keep, am I gaining or loosing energy? It’s just being open with myself and being cognizant of my environment and surroundings.”

With school being a high stress environment, Diane St-Denis, Athletic Director at RDC, said it's important for students to have role models who can come and help get these conversations started.

“You don’t want to learn how to swim when you’re drowning,” St-Denis said.

“Now when we’re not in exams quite yet and we haven’t reached those high levels of stress, now’s the time to talk about what can I do to manage that.”

Just before tip-off against the Lethbridge College Kodiaks, Bucsis also announced the recipient of the Make $150 Count campaign, which provides a local charity or project with a $150 bursary from RBC.

The winner was Kings Guard Spencer Klassen who said the money will be used for the teams Black Top project.

“We are going to hold an outdoor clinic in the community, we're not sure what age groups yet, but all the proceeds that we get we are going to take and redo a court somewhere in Red Deer.”

“Hopefully we’re going to get some new backboards, new rims, redo the court a little bit, paint some lines and really get kids excited for basketball in the community.”

The campaign also helped to wrap up the college's week long Take Some Time initiative, which encouraged students to think about how they manage their own mental health.