Studies have indicated that 25% of people aged between 15 and 24 years of age suffer from mental health conditions. At Queen’s University, students who have been diagnosed with mental health issues currently make up the fastest growing group of students with disabilities.
The university offers a wide variety of treatment and counselling services for students with such conditions as well as training to staff, faculty and campus leaders to help them recognize symptoms. More than 300 staff members from Student Affairs have received Mental Health First Aid training over the past 2 years.
An Alma Mater Society funded program will also be initiated to help educate other student leaders, executive members, commissioners and managers about mental health.
In addition, specialized mental health care is offered by Queen’s and counselling is available for personal, psychological and mental health issues. Furthermore, academic accommodations can be planned for students with such disabilities.
Research has also shown that only about 1 in 3 people who suffer from mental health problems will seek help. As such, Queen’s hopes to encourage students to seek help by distributing educational material to try to erase the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Director of Health, Counselling and Disability Services (HCDS), Mike Condra, stated that “Students don’t have to suffer in silence. There is professional help available on campus. Students wouldn’t think twice about visiting a doctor for a sore throat or an earache. It should be the same way for a mental health problem. We want students to know there are resources here and ensure they are comfortable coming in.”
Mental health problems are considered especially serious following the death of Jack Windeler, a first-year Queen’s student who took his own life in March of this year after suffering from mental health problems.
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Jack’s father, Eric Windeler, has since spoken to residence dons and orientation leaders about the vital importance of recognizing the signs of mental health problems.
Mr. Windeler said “Many young people reach a point in their lives where they feel stressed or pressured by what’s happening. Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness can lead to depression and, in the worst cases, to thoughts of suicide. But by learning and talking we can eliminate the stigma around mental health problems so that young people know where they can turn for help.”
He hopes that his speeches will help make the university community aware of the importance of being informed about mental health problems and reach out to others who need it.
Youtube video posted by Eric Windeler:
“The Jack Windeler Story – Mental Health for the Emerging Adult”
This same message can be found in both versions of the HCDS pamphlet “How you can identify and help students in distress.” The information for students is available at Students in Distress—Advice for Students, and the faculty/staff version is at Students in Distress—Advice for Faculty and Staff.
More information about the mental health services offered at Queen’s can be found on the HCDS website.
Image via Google News Centre, from a Mental Health First Aid poster that will appear around Queen’s campus to educate students and help end the stigma surrounding mental illness.