Students need a break in fall term

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It’s official. O-Week 2012 will remain a week and thus O-Week has been saved. Volunteers from every channel of WLUSU are jumping for joy, as they did after the decision was finalized in Brantford and all is well at Waterloo.

Sound too good to be true? I think so. What most volunteers are forgetting is the other component that has been swept aside with this whole situation: mental health. Let me tell you why this decision was far from a victory.
Mental health is a major issue facing a plethora of universities across Canada.

Counseling services are flooded with appointments, students seem more stressed and edgy than ever before and depression rates are at an all time high.
Imagine crying yourself to sleep, feeling unvalued in your social setting and struggling to get out of bed on a daily basis. That was how I was all of last year. I only had a mild case of depression, but it felt as if the world was ending. I didn’t want to talk to anyone and I certainly didn’t want to be seen in public. Isolation was my refuge.

I’m comfortable sharing my story with others, but most people who are suffering from extreme anxiety, depression and crisis may not feel so inclined. I got lucky and garnered enough energy to get out of my depression, but it still lingers from time to time. The cure: slowing everything down.

A break is one of the most important things that you can give to a person who suffers from depression or an equivalent. Whether it is two days or a week, anything helps. Some may have claimed that the two day reading week was a band-aid solution — I claim it was a good start.

I took a whole summer off without working just to get my life back on track. I didn’t tell many people because I figured no one would understand or care to dig deeper into how I felt. I’m better now, but many others are not.

The next step that is needed is to explore the effects and impact of mental health on students. We need to focus on personal stories and take the time to listen to people’s problems.

Implementing this in O-Week 2012 would definitely help, but that’s only the start of the solution. It’s a tougher challenge than most people think.

So, should we be jumping for joy and celebrating? Definitely not. All that was decided in the Brantford meeting was that we have a big problem that has merely been put on the backburners.

It’s time to put mental health back on the agenda and come up with a concrete solution. Only then will it feel “great to be a Laurier Golden Hawk.”

Jon is a three-time O-Week Icebreaker.


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Serving the Waterloo campus, The Cord seeks to provide students with relevant, up to date stories. We’re always interested in having more volunteer writers, photographers and graphic designers.