Let’s talk about something radical. Something that is talked about in hushed tones across the country. Let’s talk about mental health. Heck, let’s scream about it from the rooftops – because it’s ok to struggle!
First year university is, undisputedly, a huge time for transition; a time when emotions run high and life can be overwhelming. So, after the jam-packed orientation week has ended, it’s important to take the time that you need to check in with yourself, and get the resources and support you might need. Because mental health is just as important as physical health and you don’t have to have a diagnosed illness deserve or receive help. 1 in 5 Canadians live with mental illness, but 5 in 5 have mental health.
Within Dalhousie, there are so many incredible resources and services available to students. However, I recognize that seeking support is no easy task. During my second year of university, I was in a bad place. I was scared, I felt broken, and for the first time in my life I felt completely, inexplicably, and irreversibly alone. I was afraid to admit how I felt and feared the judgment from others.
Thankfully, I ended up reaching out to a psychologist. Today, without any shame, I can say that I live with generalized anxiety and panic disorders, and I am recovering from an eating disorder. These are my labels, but I am learning that they don’t define me. My experiences over the past few years have made me passionate about ending the stigma surrounding mental health, because I’m tired of waiting for change. It’s time to create change. I may be a small voice, but I am mighty.
So, what resources are out there for you on campus? There is academic advising, career counselling, and the writing centre (all amazing). There is Dal Health Services, student health promotion, walk-in nursing appointments, RAs, CAs for off-campus students, the international centre – the support we have is endless, and it’s just a phone call or click away! The free DalSafe app has most of the resources and phone numbers you might need on Dal campus, and even sends you alerts from Dal Security.
As well, Dalhousie Counselling Services is one of the resources that has changed my life completely. In the Canadian mental healthcare system, it is often hard to be heard and fight for support. Dal Counselling helped me realize that I am not alone, and helped me remain healthy. My advice to all of you is don’t wait until you are at your lowest to seek support. Caring for yourself is the best thing you can do to succeed at school. So let’s give ourselves permission to feel, and to openly communicate about what we are going through. Let’s work towards a world where saying “I have depression”, “I’m having a panic attack”, or “I have an eating disorder” is received the same way as saying “I have asthma”. Here’s to turning your struggle into strength – a battle in which you are never alone.