At BCIT, we recognize students’ struggle with mental health. School is difficult and can sometimes be overwhelming. Especially if you’re just starting out – a first-year student at BCIT, with seven to eight courses per term. It can be overwhelming. You’re thinking about getting satisfactory grades, so you study hard, forget about sleeping, eating, and time for yourself. If you’re a graduating student, looking for a job might be another factor of stress for you.
Unfortunately, we don’t always get the grades or results we desire and experience failure. Failures, tiredness, fatigue starts to weigh us down. It gives us stress, anxiety, and depression. Most students don’t recognize this and suffer through it without seeking help, until it gets severe and leads to serious consequences.
Speak Up Speak Out is a campaign, organized yearly by the BCIT Student Association, which encourages students to speak up about their mental health, seek help and, access the resources available inside and outside BCIT. Why do we need to speak up and speak out about mental health? According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada (2013), stigma or discrimination on mental illnesses becomes a serious barrier to accessing diagnosis and treatment and thus, one of the leading causes of developing serious mental illnesses.
Talking to someone about your mental health can make you feel lighter because sharing makes you feel that you are not alone. I am the type to isolate myself from everyone when I’m having mental breakdowns, telling myself “I just need to be alone”. Luckily, I have persistent friends who insist getting me to tell them what’s wrong. And when I do, I feel surprisingly better. Talking also encourages the other person to speak up about their personal experience and you realize that it’s common and normal to feel stressed. Sometimes, being stressed hinders you from thinking straight and finding a solution.
By speaking up about it, friends, family, or counsellors will help you find a solution that you may not have been aware of and may not have been able to reach on your own. According to statistics, once depression is recognized, diagnosis and treatment makes a difference to 80% of people affected and helps them return to their normal routine.
Last month, Speak Up Speak Out stress reliever activities were held by the BCIT Student Association. The activities offered included Doggy De-Stress, Question, Persuade & Refer Suicide Prevention Workshops, Mental Health Postcard Making, Yoga, and ‘Inside Out’ Movie Nights at both the Burnaby and Downtown Campuses.
Even though Speak Up Speak Out is now over, the resources at BCIT, such as Counselling and Student Development, Accessibility Services and Mindfulness Sessions, are still available for all students to use. Come join us next time in raising awareness around mental health and breaking the stigma attached to it! Don’t let mental health be the elephant in the room!