Opening up about mental health and finding tools to manage

Photo by Luke Sarazin

As a student, I know that the transition to a new school year can be difficult. As someone that lives with anxiety and depression, I know that it can be especially hard for those with a mental illness.

While things may seem fine at the beginning of the semester, soon I become overwhelmed with work and find symptoms of my mental illnesses becoming more prominent.

As workloads become heavier through the semester, it’s imperative to pay attention to potential symptoms of mental illnesses, in yourself and your friends.

I spoke with Julie Gamble, a mental health nurse at the Student Wellness Centre on the subject of students and their mental health.

As the title suggests, the Student Wellness Centre is focused on just that. So, whether it’s your mental health, your physical health, or you need help with goal setting or just someone to speak with, it’s there at your disposal.

There’s an array of staff and nurses there to provide well rounded support for those needing it, and are able to refer students to Accessible Learning or other community resources.

Students dealing with stress and anxiety, or those afflicted with a mental illness, will benefit from taking time to relax and do the activities they enjoy.

This differs for everyone, but may include participating in extracurriculars, exercising, being artistic, or even just taking time to watch Netflix – guilt free.

“The biggest part is reaching out, regardless of who is it, just talking to people and from that gathering hope and help.”

For those looking for a way to destress, Peer Connect – a Students’ Union committee focused on mental health initiatives – runs board game nights in the Concourse every Thursday. This year, they will begin Oct. 5.

Dealing with a mental illness does not have a one-size-fits-all approach. For me, a combination of eating right, exercise, medication and counselling help me stay on top of my academics and feeling good.

Each person has to find their own path to recovery, which may be completely different than mine or anyone else’s. Remember, even those on the path to recovery have bad days, and it’s nothing to be ashamed about.

Your mental health should always come first, which may mean occasionally missing a class, a game, or a night out with friends to help yourself heal.

“Talking is really helpful for most people … sometimes family and friends aren’t the right person to talk to,” Gamble said.

If someone doesn’t have a person in their life that they are able to share such experiences with, Gamble recommended phoning Good2Talk, which can be reached at 1.866.925.5454.

Good2Talk is a free and confidential helpline for post-secondary students. Professionals are available at all times to provide counselling and information.

Reaching out and talking about your mental health, whether it be to a friend, family member, or professional, can be terrifying – especially if you’ve never done it before.

It took me years of living with anxiety before I was able to. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to ask for help is a necessary first step in your recovery. It will allow you to begin on your own path, and eventually let you lead your best life.

“The biggest part is reaching out, regardless of who is it, just talking to people and from that gathering hope and help,” Gamble said.

“I think hope and help are the two biggest elements of recovery from any mental illness.”

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