Mental wellness growing priority on campuses to manage stress

by | Oct 17, 2014 | Life

Jessenia Feijo

Life Reporter

Discussions about mental health and wellness among post-secondary students within the school system have never been so robust.

At this life stage, students are figuring themselves out, and stress can be very prominent, said Dr. Dan Andreae, a professor of psychology at University of Guelph-Humber.

“This goes for terms like school, work, rising debts, relationships, trying to build up a resume, trying to get a job afterwards. There’s so many pressures that one becomes overwhelmed,” Andreae said.

“Exercise is really important,” he added. “Exercise increases blood flow to the brain that makes you feel sharper throughout the day.

Nicole Desantis, 18, a first-year Event Planning student at Humber, struggles with balance. “I work a lot. When I’m not in school, I’m always working so if the work continues to pile up, I might have to quit my job.”

Humber wants to be there to help students cope, said Dean of Students Jen McMillen.

“We’ve trained over 700 staff and faculty at Humber in mental health first aid. So that’s a really big commitment we’ve made to equip people with the skills to be able to help students that may be struggling.”

Andreae usually has counsellors  talk to students about where to seek confidential help. There is a stigma attached to expressing feelings, particularly in males, he said.

“That stigma is slowly breaking down over the years but there’s still a sense of privacy and not wanting to be vulnerable so there’s walls that are built up and people don’t get the help they need,” said Andreae.

Humber Bachelor of Nursing coordinator Pamela Adams said, “As we live in a more culturally diverse society we must learn how each one of us responds to different things in our life so we probably haven’t finished defining these areas.”

But steps are being taken. One initiative is Humber’s We Got You campaign which, “is really focused on this issue of wellness and how we can help connect students to the things that they need, maybe when they don’t know they need them,” said McMillen.

The campaign is “a brand new and significant effort to help students realize what programs are available to support them throughout all sorts of different issues at Humber.”  Students interested in mental health programs can go to