The Constant Stress of Post-Secondary Education

*Original post on Her Campus, Western University*

By Kaitlyn Forde • Western Contributor January 27, 2015 at 4:00pm

A study conducted in 2013 analyzes the mental health of Canadian post-secondary students, conclusively finding that the majority of students feel lonely, depressed, and nearly all found themselves constantly overwhelmed.  The study shows that among these feelings a percentage of students also found themselves considering suicide, with some admitting to attempting suicide.

The study analyzes various factors that play into the increase in mental illnesses, and although academics play a key role it is not the only cause for concern.  Students today are faced with academic stress, as well as stress from social relationships, domestic issues, post-graduate worries and the lack of job security, self-esteem, anxiety, loneliness, grief, abuse and sexual abuse, financial problems, adjustment issues, decision-making anxiety… the list goes on.  The problem is not the stress of dealing with any one of the problems, the problem stems from students having to juggle two or three of these problems at once.  Students are claiming a lack of motivation and severe depression; they are struggling to get out of bed, consistently miss class due to their psychological state, and feel like crying all the time.  And signs of suffering mental health, unsurprisingly, increase during exam season.  McGill University’s mental health services have reported that emergency drop-ins are four times as frequent during this period.  

Dealing with mental health issues has become a social normality within university culture. 

There are 22,357 undergraduates enrolled at Western University for the Fall 2014/Winter 2015 year.  The attempted suicide rate of students in Canada is predicted to be 1.3.  This means, according to studies, there will be 2,906 suicide attempts at Western.  Of course, this number is statistical – but numbers predict that there are nearly three thousand individuals, three thousand peers, that are experiencing such severe mental health issues that they believe suicide is a plausible alternative.

There has been a steady increase in mental health issues within universities, and as this is an issue both students and universities continue to investigate resolutions.  Health care professionals point out one positive towards the increase in mental health on university and college campuses: students are feeling more comfortable about voicing their mental health concerns.  

This Wednesday, January 28th, marks Bell’s Let’s Talk Day.  On this day Bell donates five cents for every text message sent, mobile and long distance phone call by a subscriber, tweet that uses the #BellLetsTalk, and every Facebook image share.  Anti-stigma initiatives like Bell’s Let’s Talk is bringing mental health awareness to the forefront, allowing students to feel more comfortable about voicing individual mental health concerns.  Mental health initiatives are helping students as well as any individual to take action towards fighting mental illnesses.

Students have responded to the results of The Canadian Association of University and College Health’s study and said they are comforted by the realization that they are not alone.  Constantly dealing with stress, anxiety, and other mental health concerns is something nearly all students can relate to.  You are not alone, and there are organizations and outlets that are working to help you.

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