Congratulations, you’ve made it. Welcome to the best four years of your life!
Written by Daelyn Carroll
University is an amazing experience and for many, it is life changing. There is so much opportunity for growth and personal discovery on this journey that you are about to embark on that it can become overwhelming at times. Thankfully, there are many resources available to you in order to ensure your success at your chosen University. While you are settling in, take note of the strategically picked orientation package you have received at some point in your first few days at University. As you navigate classes, living away from home, and new relationships, the advice in your package will become as valuable as the free food coupons you are bound to receive during your Orientation Week.
This letter is meant to serve as advice to prevent the neglect of your most important asset: your mental health! Maintaining your mental health in a positive way is extremely challenging in first year as you are in a new environment. Take it from us, we have all been there! However, good mental health is your most important ally. In first year, I suffered from undiagnosed anxiety as my excellent high school average plummeted by more than 20%. I struggled to make friends in my residence and felt isolated, as my grades and anxiety continued to worsen. After a wave of health issues, I considered dropping out in order to try to rescue my health. It was the advice in my orientation package, which was pinned to my door upon my arrival, that helped me realize that what I was lacking in physical health was a direct result of my poor mental health, and I could remedy my academic and social issues if I just remedied my mental health first. After reflecting on the resources available to me, I was able to recognize my own triggers for the anxiety I was feeling: not sleeping enough, talking to people who were acquaintances but not good friends, and too much caffeine.
Recognizing your own symptoms of anxiety, depression, or overall poor mental health can be difficult to do on your own. By reaching out though, you will find that there is a lot of support available for anyone struggling- no matter the concern. Coping mechanisms can include joining clubs, going to the gym or being active, or talking to the mental health professionals at your university. There is a whole network of people rooting for your continued success. It is extremely important to talk about mental health because not talking about it is scarier than any failing grade you can receive.
University is meant to be a steppingstone to something greater, not a weight on your shoulders. By breaking down the barriers that prevent students from reaching out for help, we can spread awareness and end the stigma surrounding talking about mental health. Being transparent about your mental health can help you to understand yourself and others and allows for the continued education about mental health, which is something that you cannot teach in any one lecture hall.
There is a vast pool of resources available to you. Cam’s Kids, the organization that brings you this letter, is one of them. At Cam’s Kids, we aim to spread awareness about mental health and support young people who are struggling with anxiety. Other resources can include but are not limited to: Mental Health Services at your university, Student Accessibility Services, your upper-year Residence Assistances (ie. RAs or Dons), Course Coordinators, and various help phones like Kids Help Phone or Good2Talk.
We want you to succeed. We want you to feel supported. Your university community is here to help you with your anxiety or mental health struggles. Your feelings are valid, and you are stronger than you think.