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Managing Stress and Taking Care of Your Mental Health

Mental health issues (anxiety, depression, OCD) and just plain stress can be overwhelming for kids trying to cope with their first year away from home, especially when you factor in the pressure of classes and potentially doing extra-curricular activities.

Fact-1 in every 5 teenagers in Canada have at least one mental health disorder. An estimated 1.2 million children and youth in Canada are affected by mental illness.

The sobering reality is the actual numbers are much higher. Only 20% of young people seek out help for mental health issues because they either don’t realize they have them or because they are afraid to ask for help out of fear of being ostracized by peers or even family. Add mental health issues to the stress of being in a post-secondary school and the outcome can be overpowering. Young students regress in their classes, isolate themselves away from friends and in many cases may start self-medicating. Here are some startling numbers:

  • By age 25, approximately 20 per cent of Canadians will have developed a mental illness.
  • 70% of mental health problems have their onset during childhood or adolescence.
  • Young people aged 15-24 are more likely to experience mental illness and/or substance use disorders than any other age group.
  • In 2016, suicide accounted for 19% of deaths among youth aged 10-14, 29% among youth aged 15-19, and 23% among young adults aged 20-24
  • An estimated 75% of children with mental disorders do not access treatment services.
  • After accidents, suicide is the second leading cause of death for people aged 15-24.

How Do You Protect Yourself?

Take care of yourself first. If you ignore the problems, they will not go away. They will become more and more pervasive, affecting your ability to study, perform and function. Talk to people who are qualified and who understand what you are dealing with. Putting your health first doesn’t mean you’re being selfish. It means you are being responsible, and it means you’re trying to do the best to help yourself. Make an appointment to see a counsellor. Post-secondary schools will have programs in place for mental health. Do not be afraid to access that support. They want you to graduate to. But they also want you to stay healthy and happy too. Find peer led support groups around mental wellness at or around your school. At least 20% of the kids in your school or more are fighting the same battle you are. Even if it isn’t mental health, you still have pressure of post-secondary school itself. You don’t have to go through that alone. 

You Can Do This!

Post-secondary school is hard and full of pressures and deadlines. And there is more. We have not even touched on living in a dorm or in an apartment with others, managing money and building credit (extremely important for young adults), or playing a sport or pursuing a major and a minor. For more information on how to effectively make the transition, click on the Life Skills 101 button on the top of the website and then click again. Inside you will find a full, detailed guide on how to master your first year of post-secondary school and avoid all the pitfalls. Don’t become a negative statistic. You don’t have to go through this experience alone. Educate yourself about getting educated and in a few short years you will be graduating with your degree, diploma, trade certification, or certificate and be ready to take on life on your terms. Good luck!

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