(M.FARRELL / TEDED)
BY DUY HUYNH
Mental Health Awareness Week may have ended Saturday, but mental health issues still continue to be an everyday struggle for many. Sheridan students understand how stressful the academic year can get. The workload alone is often enough, but depression, anxiety, as well as financial issues are just a few of the obstacles that students face.
Third year Computer Science major Liam Paisley recounts many of the times he’s been overwhelmed from his workload. “I was having a hard time keeping up and began to suffer from severe depression issues,” he said. “I’d rarely get a decent sleep, didn’t really get to see friends or family either. It got to a point where I was struggling to do everyday routines.”
A student such as Paisley would be a perfect candidate for FITA (From Intention to Action), an intensive counselling program that helps students struggling with personal and emotional issues through 12 weekly counselling sessions, as well as a 90 minute in person meeting with a psychologist for additional assessment. The problem is however, is that FITA is an exclusive program developed for Carleton University, University of Toronto and Humber College only; Sheridan has yet to implement a mental health dedicated program to their Student Service Centre.
Psychologist John Meissner, left, and Larry McCloskey, director of Carleton University’s Paul Menton Centre for Students with Disabilities. Meisnner and McCloskey run a program called FITA (From Intention to Action) that provides counselling and support for students dealing with mental health issues. (BLAIR CRAWFORD / POSTMEDIA)
Paisley felt that Sheridan’s counselling services didn’t help with his depression issues long term. “Sure, getting an extra week to hand in my assignment and to write my test in a slightly smaller room is nice, but those don’t do anything for the suicidal tendencies.”
According to a survey conducted by the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services, out of more than 43,000 students, 13 per cent of students seriously considered suicide in the past 12 months, and 14.7 per cent are being treated/diagnosed by a professional.
Sheridan College’s Counselling Services offers appointments and drop-in sessions for issues pertaining coping with anxiety and/or stress, time management, as well as sexuality concerns as per their student services page.
“Depression and anxiety is a common concern students come to me with,” says Sheridan counsellor Kanchan Kurichh. “We try to offer the most help we can under stressful times for students, often students will become overwhelmed from the academic year workload and may have to take time off of school to focus on their specific needs and well-being if need be.”
Staff at the student advisement centre can counsel students with a wide range of personal and academic concerns, including advocacy, coping with stress, depression as well as feelings of suicide among other subjects.
Types of counselling offered to students in need are solution-focused brief therapy, where finding alternative solutions to problems helps as a shorter term of counselling. Cognitive behavioural therapy is the other approach counsellors use to help students understand the underlying thoughts behind their emotions.
Should a Sheridan student show suicidal tendencies, all three campuses have nearby distress call centres that can be reached 24/7, as well as mobile crisis teams that can reach out to students at risk of suicide or self harm through:
Mobile Crisis Team Davis Campus: 905-278-9036
COAST Team Trafalgar Campus: 1-877-825-9011
Mobile Crisis Team HMC: 905-278-9036
Paisley says a focused mental health initiative at Sheridan will positively impact many students’ lives, helping them get through not only the academic year, but also the years beyond.
“I’ll tell you honestly right now, that a lot of students won’t be able to make it through school without these programs.”