The University of Toronto Mississauga’s Office of Student Affairs has developed a Mental Health Supports website for its students, faculty, and staff. The primary categories include mental health crisis, personal safety, sexual violence and harassment, international and out of province, and staff and faculty.
The Mental Health Supports also highlights the university’s My Student Support Program (MySSP). The program is a 24-hour confidential helpline that provides students with a platform to call or chat with a counsellor about their concerns. This service is available for free at 1-844-451-9700, and at 001-416-380-6578 for outside of North America.
With the ongoing pandemic, mental health resources have become increasingly important. Covid-19 has changed many aspects of our lives at the University of Toronto and has had a psychological impact around the world. A study by Statistics Canada revealed that “the pandemic appears to be having an impact on mental health, as 57 per cent of female participants in the crowdsource reported their mental health is “somewhat” or “much” worse since physical distancing began, as did 47 per cent of male participants.”
Even without a global pandemic, university students’ mental health is continuously affected by the high academic, social, and personal demands around them. While university life can be one of the most exciting years of one’s life, the “long hours, too little sleep, too much caffeine, a poor diet, peer pressure, a changing environment, and much more” can all overwhelm students and create a stressful atmosphere, as mentioned on UTM’s Health and Counselling Centre website. Moreover, UTM’s ReTHINK mental health page (https://www.utm.utoronto.ca/health/health-promotion/mental-health/rethink-mental-health) states that 75 per cent of mental health issues develop before the age of 25.
For this reason, health and counselling services are essential. They can help improve one’s overall well-being, including one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. An improvement in one’s psychological state has also been shown to help increase academic achievement. The new Mental Health Supports website is a great place to start looking for assistance. The website includes all of UTM’s mental health support services and is available for everyone, regardless of their location or different time zones.
Many around the world have been sharing their own methods of taking care of their mental health and well-being during these unprecedented times. Simple activities have the potential to make a significant difference in one’s health. These activities can include:
- Staying active: Whether through jumping rope, running, dancing, walking around the neighbourhood, or working out, any exercise helps provide a mood boost!
- Journaling: Taking up journaling can keep your thoughts organized, help set and achieve goals, relieve stress, improve your writing, inspire creativity, and allow for self-reflection.
- Deep Breathes: Practicing deep breathing exercises can help your mind and body recharge.
- Sleeping Properly: Getting plenty of sleep, as close to eight hours per night, is incredibly beneficial for you as it allows your mind to rest and your body regenerate.
- Yoga, Praying, or Meditation: Any of these practices can be great tools for reducing anxiety and depression.
- Random Acts of Kindness: Giving back to those in need or aiding loved ones can improve your self-esteem and help build relationships. Kind gestures are especially important during these uncertain times.
- Reading: Reading self-help books can provide you with great tips and advice.
- UTM’s new Mental Health Supports webpage: The page lists excellent resources and is now available for everyone!