Students in Distress (Part I)

Stress, anxiety, depression… The life of a student isn’t all rest and relaxation. Their mental health can be precarious. It’s a phenomenon that worries professors and doctors more and more. It’s talked about a lot in universities, and elsewhere.

By Charlotte Robec

In 2016, the National College Health Association conducted a survey of Canadian post-secondary students concerning their mental health. This study uncovered a few disturbing facts.

In effect, 44.4% of those questioned admitted having felt strong symptoms of depression over the previous twelve months; symptoms so strong that they could barely function normally. And 18.4% had been diagnosed and treated for anxiety by a professional.

Beyond that, 13% had thought of suicide, and 2.1% had made a suicide attempt.

These alarming numbers reveal deep problems among the nation’s students.

At the Université de Montréal’s Health and Psychological Consultation Centre (Centre de santé et de consultation psychologique, CSCP), the number of consultations has grown over the last few years. Between 2016 and 2019, the number went from 10,500 interviews to 13,500 according to Virginie Allard-Cameus, the CSCP’s Director.

According to Christelle Luce, a clinical psychologist at the CSCP, students have various motives for wanting a consultation, but some are mentioned more than others. Notably, symptoms of anxiety or depression, or addictive behaviors involving alcohol or cannabis, are frequently mentioned.

But other reasons can push students to wanting to consult a specialist: a separation, disappointment concerning their studies, sexual difficulties… These are painful episodes, particularly for people so young.

These studies also reveal that students often feel isolated. In Montreal, numerous students come to study here from different cities and countries. They are often far from family and friends. Adapting to a new campus and a new city can be difficult.

First seen in Reflet de Société, Vol. 27, no. 1, printemps (spring) 2019, pages 16-17

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