KITCHENER -- Whether they're tears of joy from laughing with family or tears shed from something more sombre, there are benefits to letting it all out and having a good cry.

Two students from the University of Waterloo have created a new initiative called Waterworks. It's an interactive map that locations where students and faculty have shed a tear and the stories behind them.

Whether you weep, sob, wail or shed just a single tear, there are real benefits to crying.

“So that part of your nervous system that calms you down just got activated. Like all those great endorphins, your endogenous opioids like that natural pain killer,” said Tashauna Ellis with Here 24/7 and Canadian Mental Health Association of Waterloo Wellington.

Queenin Wu and Leslie Xin are the faces behind the initiative, saying they started it as a way to help students know that it's okay to express your emotions however they manifest.

Wu and Xin are both third-year system design-engineering students at the University of Waterloo. They say the idea came from their combined passion for design, engineering, art and maps.

The interactive map uses blue dots to show where students have cried.

Students can submit their story anonymously through a Reddit forum. They can include as little or as much detail as they want about what brought them to tears.

“We were completely shocked by the number of responses we got in the first round,” said Xin, “I think we got over 300 plus data points and stories for our map.”

The map markers also share the anonymous stories. Each one of the stories is also linked to a different mental health resrouce.

The stories represent tears shed for all different reasons.

The duo launched the initiative three weeks ago, receiving nearly 400 responses already.

Their goal is to help people know that they aren't alone in how they express their emotions and that many people feel the same way.

“It’s a lot easier to share online than to put even more of yourself out there then you have to. So it's really nice that it can be in a controlled format,” said Emily Paroline, an MSW and RSW with Exhale Therapy in Kitchener.

“That was kind of the core of how this came to be. We wanted to you know, give power to people's stories,” said Wu.

The Waterworks creators say students at other universities have reached out wanting to create their own Waterworks networks, to help everyone find a way to cry it out and carry on.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, here are some resources that are available.

Crisis Services Canada (1-833-456-4566 or text 45645), Centre for Suicide Prevention (1-833-456-4566) or Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868) offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.

If you need immediate assistance call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.

Here are some additional resources that the founders of Waterworks have shared, as well:

  • Good2Talk: 1 (866) 925-5454
  • Here24/7: 1 (844) 437-3247
  • EmpowerME: 1 (833) 628 5589 (Available across Canada)