Published on October 8th, 2013 | from CAMH
The challenges we face: student mental health
It’s been said over and over again: your college or university years are supposed to be the best years of your life. Certainly the media portrays things to be this way. Just imagine: three to four years of non-stop drinking, eating, and partying. But wait a minute, where does studying and going to lectures fit into all of this? This is something we often manage to forget.
As somebody who lived with mental illness several years before I started college, I considered myself blessed. I say that because while I was unaware of the stressors I’d face in college, I had learned to deal with anxiety, stress and depression while, in many cases, my peers had no idea how to deal with what they were feeling.
I’ve heard it said many times that my generation is likely to be the first generation that won’t better off then their parents. Nowadays students have more things stressing them out and triggering them, potentially leading them to require treatment to cope with these pressures. Students are now carrying record high debt loads and the unemployment rate for young people is at an all-time high. Finding a job after post-secondary, especially in the field they are qualified for, is a serious challenge.
With all this in mind, it is now up to our education system to stop avoiding the true facts about what awaits students as they begin the next stage of their education. I’m certainly not suggesting schools make our students fearful as to what awaits them but I do think they owe it to them to be honest.
Open up about the challenges students face
Educators need to talk to students about the challenges that await them, strategize with them, and empower them to seek help if it comes to that. Students will not only be a step ahead but this will ultimately lead to healthier minds and better chances of success.
About this guest blogger: Arthur Gallant is a young adult dedicated to eliminating stigma surrounding mental health as well as raising awareness and educating the general public and mental health professionals. The child of a parent with an intellectual disability, Arthur has also dealt with mental-health difficulties such as severe anxiety and clinical depression. A former Crown Ward, Arthur uses his story to empower people and challenge the stereotypes surrounding mental health, but to also encourage people to step forward and seek help for their own mental-health difficulties. This year, Arthur is also recognized as one of the the Faces of Mental Illness by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health.