Mental health is an issue that continues to go unrecognized and misunderstood on our campuses and in our communities. A growing issue for students, mental health affects most students over the course of their studies, and yet stigma still surrounds the issue.
Mental health issues can affect students and their studies in the same way that physical ailments can – in fact, many mental illnesses manifest physically. Even though this is the case, many will never seek help or speak about their illness for fear of judgment by others or by appearing weak.
The Mental Health Matters campaign was initiated by students in Nova Scotia to promote a better understanding of mental health issues, and as a result promote more accessible, better-funded mental health services for students.
University funding affects students mental health in a number of ways. Firstly, a great deal of stress experienced by students is a result of gross public underfunding: as tuition fees continue to rise, students take on greater financial debts and work more part time jobs during their studies, acquiring more stress as a result. Supporting a more financially accessible post secondary education system is also supporting students’ mental health.
Student support services are also often the first to be downsized when universities and colleges must cut corners due to a lack of public funds. As long as schools do not consider student mental health services to be a priority, more and more students will reach crisis-mode due to lack of available resources early on.
STUDENTS IN ACTION
In March 2011, the Dalhousie proposed to cut their Students with Special Needs Coordinator – the only support person for all of Dalhousie, Kings, and NSCAD, totaling over 20 000 students. As soon as this cut was proposed, students rallied together to protest the decision, and the coordinator was preserved.