Karina Nowysz
Life Reporter

The need to succeed is causing an increasing number of students to stress out and suffer from psychological breakdowns.

The number of young adults between ages 20 and 34 diagnosed with a mental health disorder has increased to 492,266 in 2012 from 453,672 in 2011, according to the latest numbers available from Statistics Canada.

There’s a relationship between stress and an initial or recurring episode of mental illness, said Dr. Mary-Theresa McNabb, a psychologist at Humber North campus.

“There is a lot of pressure from society and family for students to find something that will sustain them,“ said McNabb. “They need to find a job that will keep them going.”

Almost 90 per cent of Canadian post-secondary students felt overwhelmed in the past year, according to a report released by the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services.

More than 30,000 students were surveyed from January to April in 2013. Post-secondary institutions that participated collected data from the web survey.

Counsellors note that a lack of exercise can also contributesto the overall stress.

“Young adults need a well-balanced lifestyle,” said Andrew Tibbetts, a counsellor at Humber North campus. “It includes exercise and fitness.”

In high school, gym was mandatory. For post-secondary students, exercise is now an option.

“When I have more options I tend to focus on the things that stress me out,” said psychology student Attiya Piracha, 20, adding that studying comes first.

Even during down time, students remain alert and turned on to technology — which doesn’t always help.

“Gaming can be very stressful because you need to fight to get your character to stay in the game,” said McNabb.

“Those types of things can be good stress but when they are added to constant stress and you don’t have that down time to relax, it can have an impact on your body.”

To help students cope with stress, Humber Students’ Federation is hosting a Mental Health and Wellness Fair on Wednesday at the North campus Student Centre starting at 11 a.m.

“We are trying to make the fair interactive,” said McNabb. “There will be games that relate to stress and try to educate and entertain students as well.”