Mental Health at University

What is mental illness?

Mental illness can refer to a wide variety of mental health concerns, which can affect the way you navigate and function in your everyday life as they impact your mood, thoughts and behaviour.

Mental illnesses include depression, anxiety, eating disorders, schizophrenia and addictive behaviours, and can be associated with sadness, anger, loss of motivation, or changes in your social and emotional patterns. There are many possible symptoms and diagnoses associated with mental illness, and they affect a huge portion of Canada’s population:¬†1 in 5 Canadians each year are impacted by a mental health concern, according to the CMHA.

If you would like to read more about mental illness in general, a great website to visit is the Canadian Mental Health Association. This page is a good place to start:

https://cmha.ca/mental-health/understanding-mental-illness 

How can mental illness affect students at university?

The DSM-5 states that mental illnesses are “usually associated with significant distress in social, occupational, or other important activities.”

University is a stressful time for many students, as it generally involves a change in your routine and workload.

If other aspects of your lifestyle have been uprooted, like leaving your family, friends, and formal city, you are entering a new environment with new stressors! You may have more freedom, the stress of making new friends, a different level of academic stress, and new locations to navigate. All of these new things can be hard and overwhelming to navigate. Don’t worry, this is normal!¬†

How do I know if I need help?

Most students (and humans, in general!) find it beneficial to seek mental health supports at some point. You don’t need to identify as mentally ill to see a counsellor for help!

NSCAD has a counsellor on-site during the Fall and Winter semesters, and she can help you with many concerns you may have, including:

  • changes in your mood
  • significant life changes and decisions
  • academic stress and concerns
  • relationship problems and worries
  • stress from work
  • family problems and homesickness
  • general anxiety, sadness or depression
  • …any concern that has you fretting!

As a general rule, it’s better to seek help sooner than later. Don’t worry if your concerns are not imminent or threatening; it’s usually more helpful to talk to someone while your stress is still at a moderate or manageable level.