Mental Health 101
Charana Jayatilaka is a fourth year political science student.
It is something that we rarely talk about, mental health. We have all been there at some point, or we all know someone who has struggled with maintaining their mental health or have been diagnosed with a mental illness.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as, “a state of well-being in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, ‘Mental health and mental illness are not mutually exclusive concepts, i.e. someone with a mental illness can experience good mental health, while someone without a mental illness can experience poor mental health, For this reason, mental health promotion initiatives that increase personal protective factors, such as resiliency and self-esteem, can help mitigate mental illness and improve quality of life among those living with a mental illness.’ Mental illnesses emerge in many ways, despite the stigma and misunderstandings by many people; it is something that can be carefully treated. More Information can be found here.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 20% of Canadians are directly affected or have personally experienced some form of mental illness in their lifetime. “Approximately 8% of adults will experience major depression at some time in their lives’ and Suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15-24 year olds and 16% among 25-44 year olds. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in both men and women from adolescence to middle age” (CMHA).
- It is estimated that 10-20% of Canadian youth are affected by a mental illness or disorder – the single most disabling group of disorders worldwide. (CMHA)
- Today, approximately 5% of male youth and 12% of female youth, age 12 to 19, have experienced a major depressive episode. (CMHA)
- The total number of 12-19 year olds in Canada at risk for developing depression is a staggering 3.2 million. (CMHA)
Unlike traditional illnesses and injuries, mental illnesses are invisible and often dismissed. This stigma and discrimination poses the greatest barrier to diagnosis and providing effective treatment to those who suffer from mental illnesses.
The mental health and how to combat mental illnesses has become a huge topic of discussion at Carleton, ranging from the university administration to student politics. The issue has become quite personal affecting all of us at Carleton with the passing of 19 year old Lucas Fiorella, whom we lost to a battle with depression. Yet in memory of Lucas, his father Sam Fiorella initiated the ‘The Friendship Bench’ Foundation, in an attempt to create dialogue over mental health issues at Canadian campuses, more information can be found at this link: thefriendshipbench.org.
Isolation and the distancing effects of struggling with mental illnesses can cause the greatest amount of damage, despite what you think you are not alone. There are resources offered by the administration and other services for students by students:
The Student Alliance for Mental Health (SAMH) at Carleton University is a student-run society dedicated to improving and maintaining mental health awareness for students in the Carleton University community. If you are interesting in giving back to the student community, please contact SAMH at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jack.org: ‘envisions a world free from the stigma that surrounds mental health; a world where everyone will discuss and treat their mental health just like they do their physical health; a world where everyone who is struggling will ask for and receive help; a world where we are all empathetic and know how to support those closest to us.’
Paul Menton Centre for Students with Disabilities (PMC): Providing information about disabilities, policies and procedures pertaining to students with disabilities to faculty and to the broader Carleton community.
The Carleton University Health and Counselling Services: provides medical, counselling and a health promotion program to Carleton University students, faculty and staff. ‘Confidential personal counselling services are available for current Carleton University students. Our primary responsibility is to alleviate distress and promote healthy functioning by providing short-term counselling services. Students can self refer to counselling.’
- For students living off campus: Main Clinic Rm. 2600 CTTC Bldg. to book in person or Call 613-520-6674
- For students living in residence: Counselling is available Sept. to April Call 613-520-2600 ext. 8061 for intake.
The Graduate Students Association-Carleton (GSA): Graduate students regularly experience incidences of harassment, intimidation, and bullying on university campuses across the province. Take part in a new province-wide graduate student survey on bullying and harassment. The survey can be found at cfsontario.ca/en/section/222.
City of Ottawa Mental Health and Addiction Services: ottawa.ca/en/residents/public-health/healthy-living/mental-health-and-addiction-services.
Resources for the administration/staff and future mental health initiatives on campus:
- Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA): Post-Secondary Student Mental Health: Guide to a Systemic Approach.
- State of Mind: Addressing Mental Health Issues on University Campuses
- Government of Canada: Health Canada: Report from the Canadian Chronic Disease Surveillance System: Mental Illness in Canada, 2015.
My advice to you, do not stand by and allow our friends to become a statistic, help us help others by joining your local campus initiatives to combat mental illnesses and contributing to the cause.