All Posts Tagged With: "mental illness"
Advice from a woman who couldn’t find help on campus
I dropped out of McGill University because of depression. It was the type that begins as a barely perceptible malaise but quickly penetrates your mind and renders you nearly unable to speak, think, or even walk. Perhaps the most common misunderstanding of depression is that it’s simply an overarching sadness permeating your positive thoughts. In its most serious form, the illness may actually leave you unable to feel anything—comfort or happiness, fear or rage. It wasn’t until I’d reached this level that I finally decided to take time off from my routine and accept help. If you find any aspect of this story relatable, I hope that you seek help immediately.
I vividly remember the first (and last) time I used McGill Mental Health Services. My parents had been asking me to get in touch with someone for months. I’d always responded to these requests by saying no, I wouldn’t see anyone because I was “fine” and “therapists are for people who need attention.” But after two years of growing increasingly despondent, I knew I had to do something. So I temporarily abandoned my mask of confidence and called.
Actress will address convocation assembly
Glenn Close will be celebrated today for her work in the area of mental health as she receives an honorary degree from Queen’s University.
The award-winning actress will be conferred with an honorary Doctor of Laws.
Close is also slated to address the convocation assembly in Grant Hall.
The six-time Oscar nominee is co-founder of Bring Change 2 Mind, which is dedicated to ending the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness.
Court document reveals accused killer was hospitalized
Luka Magnotta, accused of killing and dismembering a Chinese student, was treated for paranoid schizophrenia, though his pyschiatrist said he didn’t always take his medication.
A letter from a psychiatrist who saw Magnotta, 30, is attached to the court file on a 2005 conviction for fraud and references the diagnosis of the “major psychiatric disorder.”
The letter was released today after several media outlets fought for it to be made public.
The doctor at the Rouge Valley Health System in Toronto says Magnotta suffered from paranoid schizophrenia since at least 2000 and had been hospitalized several times.
The psychiatrist writes that Magnotta, then known by his birth name Eric Newman, was on anti-psychotic medications but didn’t always take them, which the doctor said could lead to paranoia, auditory hallucinations and fear of the unknown.
A preliminary hearing for Magnotta, is underway in Montreal, where he faces several criminal charges, including first-degree murder, in the gruesome slaying and dismemberment last year of 33-year-old university student Jun Lin.
The newly released letter was attached to Magnotta’s fraud court file at his sentencing, when the judge handed him a conditional sentence for fraud. After reading the letter she warned that Magnotta would always need to take medication, and if he didn’t, she predicted his life “is going to get messed up.”
A Globe and Mail reporter tried to obtain the letter, a public document, but was rebuffed in several attempts. Media outlets then hired counsel to make arguments to a judge for the letter’s release.
Magnotta’s lawyer Luc Leclair tried to stop the letter from becoming public, but Ontario Court Judge Fergus O’Donnell ruled Wednesday afternoon that it should be released.
It does contain sensitive and personal medical information, O’Donnell said in his ruling, but any privacy interest was foregone when the letter was filed in open court.
“Without access to the letter, the public is not in a position to engage in a meaningful assessment or debate over the appropriateness of what happened to Mr. Newman in 2005 in what is supposed to be an open and transparent court process,” O’Donnell wrote.
What students are talking about today (March 20th)
1. Students at the University of British Columbia celebrated cycling culture with electronic music and glow sticks at the UBC Bike Rave on Friday night. It was organized by student residence advisors and was funded by a community grant. Unlike the drug-fuelled all-night parties of the 1990s that inspired the bike rave, this one was, according to The Ubyssey, “good clean fun.”
2. A student writing in The Varsity at the University of Toronto reports that the stress seminar she attended is a sorry excuse for counseling. “I had hoped that this “Coping with Stress” workshop, run by U of T’s Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS) would help me, but instead it left me frustrated and angry,” writes Amanda Greer. “After a hard first semester, I approached CAPS about meeting with a counsellor. I was told there was a four month waiting list and to start looking for other options.” She points out that despite much discussion about the mental wellness of Canadian students, including in a recent cover story in Maclean’s, students often can’t access the one-on-one counselling. It’s a shame, but I think the explanation is obvious: tight budgets.
Joshua Beharry works to improve mental health on campus
Moments before he jumped off Vancouver’s Oak Street Bridge, Joshua Beharry texted his brother. He was hoping the message would be delayed—his brother had notoriously bad cell reception—but he wanted his family to know what had happened. Then, after waiting for a break in traffic, he leaped over the railing and into the Fraser River. “It was terrifying,” says Beharry, now 25. But even after jumping, he didn’t regret it. “I was thinking ‘this is the right thing to do.’ There was no chance of me ever getting better.”
Just over three years later, Beharry is speaking out about his suicide attempt in hopes that people like him will get help without feeling stigmatized.
Anxiety and depression need to be reclassified
Lately, we’ve been hearing a lot about efforts to improve the services available to students related to their psychological well-being on campuses. University presidents met for a workshop recently, and Queen’s University welcomed a new $1-million chair to study stigma.
Now, I am no mental health professional but I do know a few things about universities and have some experience with anxiety and depression.
If it were up to me, those trying to improve things on Canadian campuses would keep one crucial principle in mind: be careful how you talk about it.
First, let’s call depression and anxiety something other than “mental illness.”
Research shows links to mental illness, lung capacity
When sociologist and drug-policy expert Andy Hathaway surveyed one of his first-year classes at the University of Guelph last fall, 80 per cent of students reported experience with cannabis.
Hathaway cautions that it was only a small pilot study (around 100 responses), and it took place at Guelph, which is, let’s face it, “a bit granola.”
Still, that 80 per cent figure isn’t surprising.
When twelfth graders are asked if they’ve tried marijuana, roughly half say yes.
Provincial rates of lifetime usage now range from a low of 40 per cent of Albertan twelfth-graders to a high of 63 per cent of those in Nova Scotia, according to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse. And that’s before university.
Universities are “perfect incubators” for mental illness
From the 21st Maclean’s University Rankings—on newsstands now. Story by Shanda Deziel.
Jonathan P. describes his second year at the University of British Columbia as “very, very rough.” He had five intensive reading and writing courses in international relations, plus volunteering commitments. But as an overachiever, he felt “on top of his game.” When he fell behind at week five, the Quebec City native decided he needed to work harder. “The obvious solution, to me,” says Jonathan, 21 at the time, “was to spend less time with friends, less time doing fun stuff, and study, study, study.” By week 10, as assignments piled up, he was sleeping three hours a night. “I woke up one morning,” he says, “and I just didn’t have any taste for my studies and every day looked like it would pretty much never end.” He would call home crying. When he told his stepmom he wasn’t eating, she urged him to go to a doctor, who prescribed sleeping pills that got him through the semester. “When I was home for Christmas,” he says, “just the thought of going back to UBC, I was like, ‘Hell, no. This is not happening.’ ”
Group opposes psychiatry
The Students’ Association of Philosophy for Counsellors at the University of the Fraser Valley promoted their club at a recent mental health awareness week, reports The Cascade.
But links on the SAPC’s website show that they not only oppose psychiatry, but question whether mental illness even exists. They also offer a link to a YouTube video that says antidepressant medications—now taken by more than 10 per cent of American adults—may not work.
The club is partly a discussion group, but also offers free talk therapy from students who have studied philosophical counselling in a UFV class called Philosophy for Counsellors.
According to The Cascade: “philosophical counselling uses [philosophical] reasoning and logic to identify the initial premise upon which a person’s thoughts, beliefs, values and assumptions are founded. The thought processes of an individual are followed and examined for fallacies…”
Students just might not feel they have the time to seek help
Twent-five per cent of university students who seek medical attention on campus may be suffering from depression, according to a new study.
That’s a pretty high number, especially considering that the Public Health Agency of Canada estimates that only eight per cent of Canadians will ever suffer from clinical depression.
It’s probably fair to say that students with depression are more likely to visit their campus clinic, even if they don’t realize they’re suffering from depression.
According to the National Post “students often arrive at the campus clinic complaining of something physical—from fatigue to premature ejaculation — when the real underlying problem is psychological.”
“Frequently they don’t recognize these symptoms as symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression,” Dr. Pierre-Paul Tellier, director of student health services at McGill University told the paper.
Now, I’m assuming here, but I feel like most students rarely, if ever, visit health services; students just don’t have time to be sick.
So how many students are suffering in silence? Not feeling sick enough to go to the doctor or thinking that their sad feelings aren’t serious enough to merit medical attention. Could the real rate of depression among university students be even higher?
It’s definitely possible. According to a 2009 Globe and Mail story, around 15 per cent of students are diagnosed with a mental illness while they’re in university. And that number doesn’t count those who don’t seek treatment, which some researchers believe could be as many as half of those suffering, or those who are already receiving treatment.
This isn’t just a North American problem, researchers in Australia recently found that university students are five times more likely to suffer from mental illness than the rest of the population.
Suicide is the second biggest killer of young Canadians, after accidents, so this is clearly an important public health issue.
Our society has certainly come a long way when it comes to normalizing and treating mental illness but even depression is still stigmatized. More importantly, it’s high time to start looking into what’s causing students to have such high rates of depression and other mental illnesses.