Graduate Student Mental Health Resources

ARE YOU FEELING STRESSED? DO REGULAR TASKS FEEL OVERWHELMING?

If you are struggling, please know that there is help available.

You are not alone; a lot of students need help!

“The only mistake you can make is not asking for help.”

― Sandeep Jauhar

soothing image of rock pile and water

Mental Health and Wellness

Starting a new degree during a pandemic is, frankly, beyond stressful. This handout is just a small piece of the resources available to you. Please, please reach out if you need help! University is stressful. 

You may notice that you are having problems coping; regular tasks may feel overwhelming, and you may feel as if you have no-one to turn to. If you are struggling, please know that there is help available. You are not alone; a lot of students need help, both while transitioning to a new school and continuing on through their time at university.

“Think about your emotional well-being. Assess your emotional health regularly. Consider the particular demands or stresses you are facing and how they are affecting you. Give yourself permission to take a break from your worries and concerns. Recognize that dedicating even a short time every day to your mental fitness will reap significant benefits in terms of feeling rejuvenated and more confident.” 
(http://www.cmha.ca/mental_health/mental-fitness-tips/)

So what can you do if you or someone you know is struggling?

The University of Guelph has a great guide to the many mental health resources available to students, some of which are included in the next bullets. You can find more information here: https://wellness.uoguelph.ca/services/counselling/resources. This has SO many helpful links, including crisis / after-hours support, general mental health resources, information about multiple common mental illnesses / concerns, sexual abuse / assault resources, LGBTQ+ resources, apps, and more.

  • Are you in an immediate crisis or need someone to talk to NOW? Try:
    • 911 for emergencies / suicide attempt(s); they can send an ambulance to get you to the hospital
    • Good2Talk: 1-866-925-5454
    • Ontario Mental Health Helpline (rebranded as “ConnexOntario): 1-866-531-2600 (also has online chat and e-mail https://www.connexontario.ca/treatment-information-service-call)
    • Here24/7: 1-877-688-5501
    • Crisis Text Line: Text UofG to 686868
    • Counselling services on campus has a limited number of walk-in appointments available Monday – Friday from 12:30 – 3:30 pm.
  • If you are not in a crisis but need to talk to someone, try:
  • Simply looking for resources / tips?
    • Connect with Student Accessibility Services to learn about on-campus academic support.
    • Consider getting safeTALK trained! safeTALK is mental health first aid that helps you help someone who is considering suicide get the help they need. Administration often offers this training free.
    • FeelingBetterNow is a free online resource; you can fill out a mental health assessment for yourself, or for someone you care about. You will need an account, but you will receive a personalized action plan. https://mystudentplan.ca/uofguelph/en/mywellness.
    • The Canadian Mental Health Association has some “mental fitness tips”: daydream, collect positive emotional moments, cope with negative thoughts, do one thing at a time, exercise, enjoy hobbies, set personal goals, keep a journal, share humour, volunteer, treat yourself well. Read more here: http://www.cmha.ca/mental_health/mental-fitness-tips/
    • Exercise! There are multiple gyms in the Guelph area. See the UoG Athletic Centre hours: https://fitandrec.gryphons.ca/about-us/info/hours-of-operation. If you don’t want to / can’t go to the gym, even spending time outside in fresh air may be enough to help you feel better; try visiting the Arboretum for an extra nature feel.
    • Fuel your body! Make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D in the winter, don’t skip meals, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, try to cut back on processed food (especially foods high in sugar and salt), drink lots of water throughout the day, cut back on alcohol / caffeine, and keep healthy snacks on hand. A few small changes can help you feel a lot better!
    • Think ahead financially! 
      • Apply for scholarships before you need money, and try to keep some extra funds in your bank account in case of an emergency / unplanned expense. 
      • The Ontario Student Assistance Program has had a major restructuring for the 2019-2020 school year; be sure to apply EARLY so you can include your appropriate loan / grant amounts in your budget!
      • In a tough spot? The Central Student Association runs UoG’s Student Food Bank, which offers food and resources to those in need: https://www.csaonline.ca/foodbank. The Graduate Students’ Association offer many different bursaries / grants, ranging from child-care, to compassionate / emergency, to travel, to event funding: https://www.uoguelph.ca/gsa/?q=node/15. If you’re really in a tight spot, e-mail your advisor / your department to see if funding is available, or contact Dr. Ben Bradshaw, the Assistant Vice-President of Graduate Studies (bbradshaw@uoguelph.ca)
  • Get out and do something if you can. Isolation can be hard to break; try to make a few close friends, and encourage each other to do activities you enjoy. There’s a little something for everyone in Guelph.

The University of Guelph has adopted the ALERT model: https://wellness.uoguelph.ca/services/counselling/counselling-resources/staff-resources/what-can-i-do-alert

ACKNOWLEDGE what the person is saying and feeling in a sensitive and compassionate way. Trust your instincts even if an individual denies that there is a difficulty. You can still let the person know that you are concerned, and that you want to help.

LISTEN to the individual in private when both of you have time. Allowing the person to talk without interruption, and offering your undivided attention, can help the person to feel cared about and more confident about what to do. Reflecting back what you believe the individual is saying can help him/her to feel heard.

ENGAGE without making generalizations or assumptions about the person. Be specific about the behaviour which is the cause for concern. It is okay to ask about it, and to name what you see. For example, a Faculty member may say, “I’ve noticed that you have not been in class lately, and I’m concerned.” Offer hope and reassure the student that things can get better. Assist the person in realizing that there are always options and resources, and that life will not always seem hopeless.

REFER the student to Counselling Services at Ext. 53244 or Student Health Services at Ext. 52131 to access immediate help and support. Both services have counsellors and doctors available on an emergency basis. To facilitate the referral you can offer to contact either service on their behalf, or offer to accompany the student for an appointment to the service provider.

Except in an emergency situation, you must respect the person’s right to accept or refuse a referral. However, if it is a life threatening emergency and the student refuses to access any of the resources available, immediately consult with either Counselling or Health Services for assistance. Offer to follow up with the student.

If the crisis is of a severe and extreme nature, the Crisis Management Team may be co-ordinated and the Associate Vice-President (Student Affairs) will be informed and consulted on the situation. 

TALK with Staff from either Counselling Services (Ext. 53244) or Health Services (Ext. 52131) about the situation, resources that are available and to discuss a plan of action. Consult with colleagues or supervisors for support, guidance, and assistance.
 

 

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