BY LOREN PELAEZ
Sheridan students who struggle with mental health have resources open to them that they may not know about.
There are free and local services aimed to support wellness in Halton’s youth. The Supported Training and Rehabilitation in Diverse Environments (STRIDE) program in Halton is just one example of the free services supporting struggling youth. STRIDE prepares people with mental illness and addiction for employment. They offer programs like peer mentoring and an employment connections program.
Tegan McCann, a third-year college student, participates in STRIDE because it helped her find employment. “If you’re having difficulty finding a job, they do exactly what you need to overcome what you’re going through,” McCann says, “they make sure you actually go to interviews. They actually care.”
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is another organization with a vision of wellness for those with mental illness. CMHA describes itself “as the nationwide leader and champion for mental health” on its website. With services operating in more than 300 communities across Canada, CMHA is one of the oldest continuing voluntary health organizations in Canada. They also run weekly free walk-in counselling sessions throughout Halton. The sessions are open to anybody aged 16 to 24.
Students and young people in Canada need mental health services due to the higher rates of mental illness they experience. The Centre for Mental Health and Addiction (CAMH) reports that Canadian youth aged 15 to 24 experience mental illness and addiction more than any age group.
McCann is no exception to this statistic.
“I still have really bad anxiety when I go to school,” she shares, “then when I get to class I feel like everyone is staring at me and judging me.”
Drug use and addiction are all too common for college and university students. In 2013, youth aged 15 to 24 were found to be four times more likely to report drug-related harm than people aged 25 years and older. “I honestly believe I abuse drugs but I don’t think I use drugs as much as other people do,” says McCann.
Sheridan College offers services right here on campus to help students who are struggling. Supportive counselling and mental health crisis intervention are available by appointment at the health centre. Nurses at the Health Centre can also be seen by walk-ins to address any mental health concerns students may have.
Community based services such as STRIDE and CMHA’s walk-in sessions are valuable for people who may not be able to afford pricey one-on-one therapy. Although the fate of these services is unknown at best. CBC reports that Ontario Conservatives under Ford’s leadership have planned a $335 million cut in planned mental healthcare funding. A portion of the funding they have pledged will be spent on first responder and police training. According to NDP leader, Andrea Horwath, Tories’ decision will worsen Ontario’s mental health crisis.
“[Ford’s] mental health commitment – $1.9 billion over 10 years, down from $2.1 billion over four years – is a massive cut to the supports and services Ontarians are depending on”.