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Mental health and education

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When you become a student, there is an abundance of advice that people will try to give you. Sometimes, there is so much of it that it feels impossible to quiet the noise from it all. Making the decision to pursue further education in the first place is a brave move. There is an innate sense of personal accountability for every aspect of your life. People often live alone. They buy their own groceries and take their supplements and vitamins (think Integrative Therapeutics, for example). They pay their own bills. They control how they hold a job (if they choose to have a job, that is). And all of this happens while students are trying desperately to juggle their academic successes.

With so much happening, mental health strains are not unheard of. In fact, they are becoming more common as the hours pass. The statistics are staggering. 78% of educators say that they have seen their students struggle with mental health issues in the last year, with 14% of cases involving suicidal behaviour or thoughts of harming themselves. Issues like anxiety, depression, self-harm, addiction, and eating disorders (to name a few of the most common mental health strains noted) are more commonplace in education than ever, and the unfortunate reality is that the numbers of cases are still rising. If you only listen to one piece of advice as a student, let it be this: do not compromise your health in favour of academic excellence – especially your mental health.

We have all been there. The struggle to get a paper submitted before it is due, amid a whirlwind of other assessments. And there always comes a point where you are so overwhelmed with what comes to feel like endless deadlines, all due within days of one another, that it feels like you are being stretched far too thin. You are. When you feel like this, that is your body telling you that you need to slow down. But the problem is that even if you know you need to slow it all down for your health’s sake, deadlines do not wait. You can apply for extensions, but they are not given lightly. It feels like educators are always demanding more without giving more time, more understanding, more patience.

The thing about education is that it is supposed to be hard. It is supposed to challenge you. But what is off-putting is that with all the rising challenges, there seems to be little to no meeting in the middle on the part of the educators that are teaching you. They do care (most of the time). But they are also juggling hundreds of other students at the same time, so it might feel like they are not giving you enough time. They do their best to give you all they can (again, most of the time). So, what if they have not helped you enough? Seek out counseling services for your school, tell loved ones you are struggling, spend time outside and focusing on what you love. Work towards finding the balance again, and maintaining it. It can be, and often is, a long road, but it is entirely worth it.


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