I am a Student

Did you know? A fifth of Canadian postsecondary students are depressed and anxious or battling other mental health issues, according to a national survey of colleges and universities. The survey also found that more students are reporting being in distress than three years ago.

Health Canada has affirmed that the onset of a great majority of mental health issues occurs during adolescence and young adulthood, around the same time that many Canadians begin postsecondary studies. Moving to college or university can be a stressful time in itself, and if you also experience mental health issues or illness, it can be even harder. Not only can mental health concerns negatively impact one’s well-being, but it can also significantly hinder one’s education. In fact, depression was found to be a significant predictor of a lower GPA and a higher probability of dropping out of school. However, there are steps you can take to ensure a better support system around you.

The Facts

A Star/Ryerson survey of 15 Canadian universities and colleges found all but one have increased their mental health budgets over the past five years. The average increase has been 35%.
Academic accommodations have been rising. Example: 143% cent at the University of Toronto, for example, since 2009.
A major survey of 25,164 Ontario university students by the American College Health Association showed that between 2013 and 2016, there was a 50% increase in anxiety, a 47% increase in depression and an 86% increase in substance abuse. Suicide attempts also rose 47% during that period.

Let’s Talk About Mental Health

Mental Health: In Our Own Words

Common Signs of Mental Health Issues or Illness

Mental health conditions have 10 common warning signs that should be taken seriously. If you or someone you know experiences one or more of these signs, you should talk with trusted family, peers or mentors and seek assistance.

  1. Feeling very sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks
  2. Severe, out-of-control risk-taking behaviors
  3. Sudden overwhelming fear for no reason
  4. Not eating, throwing up or using laxatives to lose weight
  5. Seeing, hearing or believing things that are not real
  6. Repeatedly and excessively using drugs or alcohol
  7. Drastic changes in mood, behavior, personality or sleeping habits
  8. Extreme difficulty in concentrating or staying still
  9. Intense worries or fears that get in the way of daily activities
  10. Trying to harm oneself or planning to do so.

It can be difficult to know whether what you are experiencing is an early sign of an emerging mental health condition or part of adjusting to college.

You don’t have to know the answer to that question. Listen to your mind and body. If you are not feeling right and are having trouble shaking that feeling, then talk with someone who can help you sort things out and help you decide what kind of support or care you need. Look further down this page at the ‘Support Service Links at Your School’ section as a place to start the conversation.

You are not alone: Student stories of mental health

There are situations that can trigger and affect your mental health. To some, they may seem like a normal occurrence that happens to everyone. To others, the mental strain associated with the event can be overwhelming. Be aware of these stressors and think about how they have or could affect your mental health.

Mental Health and Social Media

It’s probably strange for many of you to imagine what it was like for young adults 15-20 years ago when social media wasn’t embedded in our hands most waking moments of every day and night. In some respects, it’s the same for my generation who, as a teen, first saw the exposure of cell phones and pagers into our social mix which changed how we communicated. We were the ‘transition’ generation; the first to move to computer use in school, to start having electronics and access to the (very slow and noisy dial-up) internet… and all the wonderful things that come along with that. Frankly, my generation and the one before are not the best at understanding how your generation is affected by social media but we are learning. This is a new concept in the world so give us a little time to investigate it! What I do know is that most things, in moderation, are good and extreme or excess is likely not good. Research is starting to talk about this very concept; affects of social media on mental health. When it comes to your mental health, it is important to understand how social media affects you. Keep an eye on it across time and critically reflect on your social media behaviours (good and bad).

How to Cope During School

Attending college or university is an important achievement and exciting time in life. You will gain greater independence, meet new people and have new and memorable experiences. It is a time of significant transition, which can be both positive and challenging. So, to get the best start, read through the resources of this Mental Health Toolkit!

Connections with others, including involvement with campus and community activities, can help you protect your mental health. Explore opportunities through your campus student activities center and get involved in one or more of the following:

Support Service Links at Your School

Dealing with mental health problems that involve stigmas, isolation and loneliness requires solutions that are individualized, constant and personal. This means a relationship between two people and access to more resources. Sometimes the associated services are avoided by students who don’t feel they have mental health problems or who, simply, want to avoid the stigma of going to counselling.

Here are things to know before or soon after you arrive on campus. How many of these to do you know about?

Whether you currently use mental health services, begin to experience distress or develop a mental health condition or never need mental health care, you should know how to access mental health care on campus. To help you get the answers to the questions above or to find someone to speak with, find your school below and contact someone today.

For Educators

We know you care about your students and are reading this section looking for information you could use. Thus, we decided to include some handy resources and interesting articles If you have any articles or reports you would like to share, please send to research@csmls.org.