Mental health is half the fight

Somehow we have to survive.

For me lately, it’s been a mixture of denial and brownie bark. It’s thin, crispy brownies with chocolate chips in it. Seriously, that stuff is good.

The new semester is starting to becoming old news. Everyone has settled into classes and no doubt professors are already piling on assignments. Fourth years are trying to soak up everything they need to – or just trying to pass – so they can graduate and move on. You just want some sunshine but Old Man Winter hates when people are happy.

And that’s when your mind hits the panic button.

Some of you may have seen former Canadian senator Michael Kirby speaking in the Kinsella Auditorium a few weeks back about the importance of treating mental illness. He talked about how 75% of youth under the age of 24 don’t receive the help they needed when it comes to their mental health. That number is too high.

I’ve had issues. I’m having issues right now. As a fourth year I have the usual litany of class assignments and deadlines. But, and most of my brethren can vouch for this, thinking about living in the real world is scary shit. I haven’t been able to think more than a week ahead before the dread, insecurities, and hopelessness sets in. I should start charging rent.

Mental health has been a big issue in our society as of late. Things like suicide are becoming more common, and the ages of those committing the act are heartbreakingly young. The problem is only now starting to be addressed, but action is needed. Action has been needed for years.

I’m used to giving out fitness tips and fun ways to stay healthy in these columns. But given the time of year, I think people just need some support. The biggest thing is to talk to people who care. If you’re having problems or notice your friend is, don’t be afraid to open up. You’d be surprised how often a kind word can change everything.

Lots of little things can make a huge difference, even if it doesn’t solve the whole issue. Meditation can be super helpful if you’re stressed and falling into a funk. Grabbing a pal and having a Netflix night (which is probably every night, but whatever) might take the edge off. Exercise your body and your mind. Don’t be afraid of asking for help.

I’m not an expert. I can’t diagnose people and I can’t tell you what will work. Mental illnesses like depression and anxiety are common at university and can happen for any reason, and unfortunately there’s no set formula for getting back on track.

But if you realize that people do care and things will get better, it can make a difference.

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