By Charlotte Pottier-Bonneville
As mental health services are in high demands, students struggle to find the help they need as they don’t always know where to go to ask for help, services may not be easily accessible or they will suppress how they are feeling until they desperately need professional services. Health services are in high demands given that the number of students experiencing mental issues is growing.
As Stephanie slowly glances at me while, taking a sip of her chamomile tea. Her eyes quickly drift to her phone screen, where she is expecting an exam result to appear at anytime now. She nervously tells me, “I need to keep my average high for University, sometimes I feel the price to pay would be for me to break down”. Stephanie has been studying at Dawson for four years. She has reached a point where she is always anxious about her grades and this constant stress means that she does not manage her school workload effectively. She has finally decided on seeking help with her anxiety caused by school, by asking her family doctor for a referral to see a psychologist.
According to Victoria Gibson of the Globe and Mail “[…] counseling appointments for university students have risen constantly for six years, up 89 per cent from 2010-11″. When Stephanie told her mom, Lucy about the counseling she was seeking. Her mother finally understood the level of anxiety, her daughter was experiencing. Talking to her mom about how she felt was a great step forward. Stephanie felt understood and more in control. She knew what to do and the professional services she needed to learn how to manage her anxiety.
Camille Lebeau, an ex-fashion student, has taken a break from school due to anxiety issues. She says,“It was just too much to handle. I was constantly stressed out knowing this was not the program I wanted to be in and I am not sure what I want to do with my life″. She also tells me how taking a break from school and seeing her therapist really helped discover who she was. “I am finally getting to know myself. Finding out what my interests are, I now know what I want to study. This introspection made me want to go back to school and finished what I started.” By going through this process, Camille allowed herself to reflect on her interests and be more confident about her decision to select the educational program that was best suited for her.
Today, students are seeking different ways to get help for their anxiety. William Pang of the Globe and Mail explains that “students have taken matters into their own hands by leading a variety of mental health initiatives such as peer support centers staffed by students and funded by student unions “. Students are also more likely to share their anxiety with their peers, which can be beneficial if others have gone through similar difficulties and have found effective ways to deal with them.
According to Leia Abraham who has been teaching for 10 years says, “The combination of teens working part-time and being master procrastinators creates the perfect mix for anxiety. School is not something they can control and they always put it last on their priorities as tests pile up.” To deal with the high anxiety levels present in high school students, a small army of support staff are called upon. As Abraham explains, “In a high school setting students at my school have access to a nurse three times a week and two councilors who are available five days a week. We also work closely with substance abuse councilors when needed. When these resources are not enough, we reach out to our community CLSC for assessments and specialist referrals.” Although this type of comprehensive services is not always available, some resources are available; the first step is for students to recognize that they need help.
As William Pang explained, “the growing strain on mental health services seems to be a common trend that shows no signs of slowing down.” In the future, stronger partnerships between students, school officials, and mental professionals, will hold the key to student success and reduced anxiety. For students developing the ability to seek the necessary professional help when needed is a skill that will payoff for an entire lifetime.
Don’t hesitate to consult the Personal Counselling Services at Dawson located in room 2D.2.