For many post-secondary students, anxiety and depression are everyday challenges.
Maria Galindo, a 19 year-old SAIT Business student, admits she has struggled with both anxiety and depression in her life.
“I feel like it’s something most teenagers go through,” said Galindo.
Galindo said that she began to realize her depression was being triggered by stress. In order to reduce it she began to prioritize the important things first in her life.
“I also tried to bring more positive things into my life, and I avoided situations that were going to make me stressed out,” said Galindo.
‘Teachers should avoid scheduling tests on the same days, it brings on a lot of anxiety,” Galindo said on how anxiety could be reduced.
Kristen Lowen, a 19 year-old SAIT culinary arts student, agrees with Galindo, and adds that she finds her anxiety gets worse when she has to stand up and talk in front of the class.
“Your teacher will ask you to get up and speak, and you can’t because of anxiety,” said Lowen.
Lowen has been struggling with depression and anxiety since she was 12 years old.
“You learn to manage it,” said Lowen.
In order to keep her anxiety and depression at a manageable level Lowen says she works out a lot and meditates, as well as reading and writing a lot.
Lois Hayward, one of SAIT’s counsellors for 18 years, explains that when she first meets with a student she tried to find out the background of what it is that’s causing their anxiety or depression.
Hayward also believes that discovering students’ strengths and some of their challenges is beneficial to the counselling process.
“Counselling isn’t about just focusing on problems,” states Hayward.
“It’s helpful to look into what’s difficult for them, figure out what is going to be possible for them, and then build a solution.”
Hayward usually has about 10 to 12 sessions with each student who approaches her, and each session usually lasts about 50 minutes.
“We also hold 30-minute drop-in sessions, which are very popular,” says Hayward.
“Students’ schedules are very challenging because they’re so packed, so we try to hold the drop-in sessions when students would usually have a lunch break.”
SAIT offers an abundance of resources including the online counselling services, sessions by appointment with a counsellor, and support from the SAIT Student Association.
“Sometimes students feel that they have to be upset about something,” says Hayward.
“But they can also receive counselling for exam anxiety, procrastination, or even career counselling.”
Counselling can be beneficial to those who need help staying focused in school when they have other stuff going on in their life as well.
SAIT also offers students evening counselling sessions by appointment only. as well as appointments and the online resources. Help from the SAIT Student Association is available as well.
“If someone doesn’t feel comfortable with counselling at school, we can certainly help them with referrals to outside counselling,” said Hayward.
Counselling isn’t about just focusing on problems. – Lois Hayward
To acknowledge that students struggle with anxiety and depression SAIT has a mental health awareness week every couple months.
SAIT also has an upcoming wellness check, as well as a health fair, which will happen in January.