Published: Monday, October 1st, 2012
View the edited article here
1 in 5 college students suffer from depression or some form of mental health issue.
Why begin this article on such a seemingly dour note? Because people need to realize that emotional and mental health issues are a lot more ubiquitous than one might think. In a culture that has begun to understand and empathize with the litany of emotional and mental issues that plague many, it is vital that people also be aware of the prevalance of said issues, to recognize any arising symptoms in in family, friends or even within themselves, so that they may seek the proper assistance.
In the age of Google, information can seem incredibly within reach, leading some students to turn to the internet to seek out information and help. However, they are often times dealt unreliable information with shoddy sources, which is why online research must be done with extreme caution. One must keep in mind that multiple anecdotes do not create a fact.
The students of Fanshawe are especially blessed in being served their want of help and counselling. Fanshawe College has a variety of resources for students dealing with various personal issues not just limited to mental health. Fanshawe’s Counselling and Accessibilities services (in room F2010) are open to all students with a wide range of personal issues, ranging from depression and eating disorders, to career choices.
While students in counselling come from a variety of ages and backgrounds, freshmen and young adults can be more suspect to being caught up in depression, anxiety or stress. “In the young adult years there is a higher prevalence of first-incident mental health issues,” says Lois Wey, manager of Fanshawe Counselling and Accessibilities. “For students who are leaving home for the first time, there’s extra stresses, less supervision…students are more susceptible to drinking and drug use.”. The shock of freedom, combined with the sheer size and scale of college comes as a shock to the uninitiated, which in turn leads to feelings of isolation and lonliness.
The heightened pressure for academic success also tends to prey on younger students. “Some parents extremely supportive, and give their kids the emotional boost. Other students have more challenges with family, which leads to more stress.”.
According to Wey, there are “over 4000 students”, up to 25% of Fanshawe’s population, given counselling every year. Students may set up an appointment with a counsellor to talk with via phone or internet, and all services are done in complete confidentiality that will only be breached when the possibility of harm to self or others is seen as a credible threat.
Leading back to the topic of online resources on mental health, while a large majority of schools have their own counselling services as well, Fanshawe goes a step beyond with their own iCopeU website (http://icopeu.com/fanshawe/home.html ), also accesible from myFanshawe (http://myfanshawe.ca). iCopeU, a subsidiary of mindyourmind, an award winning mental health program, is targeted towards college and university students. The site not only serves as an outreach , but also intends to serve as a reliable online resource on mental health, while educating students in interesting and entertaining ways. One example of this ‘edutain ent’ is the “Reach Out” quiz, a Jeopardy-style flash game (interestingly enough, presented by Josh Ramsay of Mariana’s Trench) where you rack up points based on correctly answering questions on a variety of topics, from signs and symptoms of disorders to mental health in popular music.
Another interesting component of the iCopeU site is the Coping Kit, a mini-journal of sorts, which encourages students to actively think about what they must do in a personal crisis. The Coping Kit can be printed and refered to for personal use, as an exercise to help those with particularly severe personal issues to handle crisis situations better through self-created drills and personal discovery.
The Student’s Counselling and Accessibilities services as well as iCopeU are freely available to all students of Fanshawe, but the most important thing for people to do is realize there is no shame, no stigmatization in having or opening up about their personal issues, no matter what they may be. That to have any sort of issue isn’t a weakness, but as part of the human condition.
After all, our flaws are what make us perfectly human.