The Mental Health Crisis in Perspective

Jun 01, 15 The Mental Health Crisis in Perspective

Recently in the news, the controversial subject of mental health on university campuses has taken the spotlight. Students are stepping up and reaching out to talk about mental illness in a school setting. Unfortunately, the consensus is this: schools nationwide are lacking in resources and awareness. They are simply not well enough equipped. Bathurst High School students have no idea where to go for help when dealing with mental illness. Many seniors are not prepared for a university setting where the ability to provide support is severely in question.

Earlier this year, Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia experienced much scrutiny after the publication of an article in their student newspaper, The Athenaeum entitled, “Go Die Somewhere Else.” The article was written by a student describing his eviction from campus residence due to his clinical depression and suicidal thoughts being considered a threat to himself and to the safety of other students. This sort of discriminatory behavior displayed by University officials represents the shocking reality of how mental health issues are mishandled and misunderstood.

In 2012, Ryerson University in Toronto saw a whopping 200% increase in demand from students in crisis situations. This influx of students seeking support isn’t surprising considering that today one quarter of all Canadian University students will experience a mental health problem before they reach the end of their degree. The director of health services at Ryerson stated in the article “Campus Crisis,” published by CTV that the transition from high school to university is like “falling off a cliff.”

“The sort of volume and the crises and the need we’re seeing is increasing year after year.”

As it turns out, high school students are also feeling the pressure. In a recent survey of three grade 11 and 12 classes, the majority of BHS students admitted to needing support beyond what their friends, family and teachers were capable of. A smaller pool of data revealed that there is little understanding in regards to where to go and what to do when faced with stress, anxiety and depression. One student felt that all “problems” students may face are met with the same generic response.

“There isn’t much instruction on what to do if you’re feeling down or need help aside from, ‘Go to guidance.’.”

High School students must be equipped early on with the knowledge and tools to recognize mental illness and to face it head on. In consideration of the unending stigma surrounding mental health issues, schools must implement programs and resources that reach all students in an “in your face” way. Students should not have to seek out support in the event of a crisis. Instead, questions such as “What do I do when I need support,” “What are the first steps” and “How do I know when stress becomes too much stress” should be addressed immediately upon entering high school. Encouraging this kind of open communication between students and teachers may better prepare seniors for the unnerving transition from high school to university.