THE ISSUES WITH MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES ON CAMPUS

Mental health is not a destination, but a process. It’s about how you drive, not where you’re going.

Noam Shpancer

Many university students suffer from mental health issues, yet it’s hard for them to get the support they need to make it comfortably through the semester. About 1 in 7 young people in British Columbia will experience a mental health crisis at some point in their life. “The majority of people experience their first mental health issue between the ages of 15 and 25; typically the age they’re close to graduating high school and entering university.

https://globalnews.ca/news/5969461/mental-health-canadian-campus/

75 percent of mental health disorders happen before the age of 25. These conditions include anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and suicidal thoughts.

https://ontariosuniversities.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/COU_Ensuring-a-Whole-of-Community-Approach-to-Mental-Health.pdf

 Plenty of university campuses don’t have the resources students need and even when they do, it’s hard to get an appointment because of the overload. Sometimes, campuses even limit the number of appointments you can have, which defeats the purpose of having resources on campus you can turn to. Of course, I understand limiting the number of appointments if the campus is suffering from an overload of students wanting an appointment, but many students are going to need more than one appointment to help them get through the semester.

Entering university was a huge jump in regards to the resources I can turn to. In my high school, it was easy seeing a councillor. The line ups may be long after school if it’s a sudden visit, but the waitlist wasn’t long after scheduling an appointment, and the number of appointments wasn’t limited at all. The councillors were there all year for us students to turn to.

Mental health issues can seriously deter a student’s performance at school, whether it be because they’re exhaustion, anxiety, or stress that causes them to not be able to focus in class.

by user johnhain on Pixabay https://pixabay.com/users/johnhain-352999/

Unfortunately, some professors don’t understand mental health issues are just as important as physical illnesses. I, personally, have been lucky enough to have many professors who understand the effects of mental health and will give us help and extensions, as long as we communicate with them. However, other people I have talked to haven’t been so lucky and voiced their frustration about having a professor who isn’t as understanding their mental health issues.

Getting a doctor’s note for mental health issues isn’t easy, yet a lot of professors ask for doctor notes if we miss a day. Sometimes, people aren’t feeling mentally stable enough to even get out of bed, and it’s not as simple as going to the walk-in clinic and getting a doctor’s note for a mental issue. Receiving a doctor’s note for injuries or physical sicknesses are easy, and we should be able to do that if the professor asks. However, I think as long as we communicate our struggles, without going into too much detail if it makes us uncomfortable, we should be able to make up any tests or assignments we missed without getting a doctor’s note.

I have to make an appointment with my doctor every time I need a medication change or refill, or if my mental illnesses get worse. If I’m struggling to get out of bed, or even just go to class, there is no way I’ll be able to get a doctor’s note for that day because chances are, I’ll have to wait two weeks or so to see my doctor.

One thing I’ve found helpful about my university is we have dental and medical plans, and we have the choice to opt-out if we already have one or if we find a new one. It helped a whole lot when I was no longer on the plan my family was under and it saved me the trouble of having to find and apply for a new plan. I think it might also be helpful to add mental health plans to it. If we don’t need it, we can choose to opt-out like the other two plans. Having a mental health plan will immensely help so many students having trouble finding a plan that allows them to see a therapist without having to worry too much about the cost.

People shouldn’t feel ashamed if they have to go see a therapist. It’s something you should be proud of. It’s not easy to open up and to ask for help. Believe me, I know. And it might not be easy to find a therapist that you feel helps. It can take a lot of work and many different therapist visits but eventually, you’ll find one that you feel works, and you should not feel ashamed that you visit one. Someone once told me that everyone should see a therapist at least once in our lives. We all struggle with something and mental health issues are something you should not feel ashamed of.

If you struggle with something, please find someone you can talk to. And if you notice a loved one struggling, try to talk to them and help them out. Chances are, they want to talk but they’re finding it too hard to speak up.

Below are a list of resources you can turn to if you need the help. If you know any that aren’t mentioned, the comments are open so please put them in there.

https://jack.org/talks

Crisis Services Canada: 1-833-456-4566, or text 45645

Native Youth Crisis Hotline: 1-877-209-1266

Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 (ages 5-20)

https://www.cbc.ca/radio/opp/if-you-want-to-talk-to-someone-here-s-a-list-of-resources-that-might-help-1.4603730

by user geralt on Pixabay https://pixabay.com/users/geralt-9301/

MY EXPERIENCE IN UNIVERSITY WITH MENTAL HEALTH CHALLENGES

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.

Vivian Greene

I’ve been struggling with anxiety ever since I was sixteen, and depression since I was nineteen. For the most part, I’ve been able to handle living with it but ever since I started attending university, I’ll admit that it’s a bit harder to maintain.

Before I was diagnosed with anxiety, I could easily give presentations in front of the class. Part of me enjoyed it. Then I entered the eleventh grade. I still remember the moment when my anxiety was starting to show. Everyone in my physical education class had to choose a partner and a workout move. One class, each pair would have to demonstrate the move properly. Just thinking about the presentation would fill me with anxiety. My breathing was a lot heavier every day and my heartbeat had a very unsteady pace.

It wasn’t until I was in my first year of university where I went to a doctor and I was properly diagnosed, and the next year I was diagnosed with depression.

Being a university student with these two mental illnesses isn’t rare, but it’s also anything but easy. Anxiety and stress together only make the university experience a lot more difficult than it has to be. I’m a creative writing major, so I’ve been taking so many classes I genuinely love, whether it be screenwriting or short fiction. Either way, I get to write and tell stories, something I’ve been doing as long as I can remember.

However, my anxiety does not make it easy. Most of the creative writing classes I’ve been in, everyone has to submit some sort of work to get workshopped. Just this semester, I got to submit a chapter of a novel I’m working on, one that I love writing and am proud of. Yet I edited the chapter so many times, taking out parts I loved and thought worked with the story because I was constantly anxious about hearing my classmates’ comments. I was second-guessing my own work that I’ve been working on since April. I already edited it before I even started this semester, but I kept doing it over and over again because I was afraid of what other people were going to think when all I should have done was submit something I was genuinely proud of.

Having to present something in my classes is another thing that’s quite difficult for me. One presentation I gave was about creating characters in stories. I absolutely love the characters I create. Despite being fictional, I have a strong connection with them, so I was excited about this topic. However, I couldn’t stop thinking about my presentation. My mind kept imagining horrible scenarios for me that likely wouldn’t happen. My breathing was heavy for weeks. On the morning of my presentation, I had my first panic attack. And I did fine during the presentation. None of those scenarios happened, I got an A, and my class seemed interested. Yet after that, I still struggle with giving presentations despite having a positive experience with one.

Anxiety isn’t as simple as telling yourself that nothing is going to go wrong.

by user johnhain on Pixabay https://pixabay.com/users/johnhain-352999/

The spring semester of 2019 was the worst one for me mental health-wise. My depression went downhill. I struggled to fall asleep at night and get out of bed in the morning. I missed a lot of classes for one course. That was when I had to start taking medication.

I think the worst part about it was that I didn’t feel like there was anywhere I can go on campus to get support for my mental health. I was on campus two times a week, one of those times being six hours long. It’s part of my routine, yet there wasn’t anything I can do to get support. My university does have councillors, but it takes a long time to see one after making an appointment and each student is limited to a certain number of visits. Most people need more than just a few visits to get the help they need to make it through the semester.

I’ve started to find support for my mental health, and not just by going to a doctor. When my mental health went downhill, I turned to my grandma for support and she started taking me out for lunch once a week after one of my classes. I got to get advice for my mental health, and even if she didn’t know what I could do, she still listened.

I have friends with similar experiences as me. We turn to each other in need and while we sometimes struggle with giving advice, it’s nice to know we have someone to turn to.

Even though I have support, I still think having resources I can turn to on campus will help immensely. The resources will be there specifically for students who struggle with mental health. They’ll know exactly how to handle our situations and give us to help we need, especially when we have plenty of assignments piled on us.

So far, the only support we have is through people outside of the school.    

Read More: THE ISSUES WITH MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES ON CAMPUS https://mywritingjourney.home.blog/2019/12/09/the-issues-with-mental-health-resources-on-campus/

Below are a list of resources you can turn to if you need the help. If you know any that aren’t mentioned, the comments are open so please put them in there.

https://jack.org/talks

Crisis Services Canada: 1-833-456-4566, or text 45645

Native Youth Crisis Hotline: 1-877-209-1266

Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 (ages 5-20)

https://www.cbc.ca/radio/opp/if-you-want-to-talk-to-someone-here-s-a-list-of-resources-that-might-help-1.4603730

by user johnhain on Pixabay https://pixabay.com/users/johnhain-352999/

Introducing Me

The blood in my veins is made up of mistakes. Let’s forget who we are and dive into the dark as we burst into colour returning to life.”

5 seconds of summer.

I’ve been writing since as long as I could remember. Even when I was in kindergarten. I was always writing picture books and while they weren’t the best, since I was only five after all, they helped fuel my love for writing.

Why I love writing

  • It gives me an outlet
  • It helps me live my active imagination
  • I can create characters I can relate
  • I can spread awareness about various topics

Writing isn’t my only passion. I love listening to music, playing music, painting, and taking my beautiful dog Luna for a walk.

Some topics I’ll possibly write about

  • My writing experiences
  • Writing tips
  • Mental health
  • Everyday life
  • Music

I’m not always the best at expressing myself so I’m hoping this blog will me.