Mental health issues can occur for a wide variety of reasons. Students who are experiencing a mental health problem will find themselves somewhere on the mental health continuum. It’s important to be able to distinguish between a mental health issue and a mental illness.
Brock students report that
academic performance is affected by:
32.7% anxiety, and
32.7% sleep difficulties.
Ref: Stats from NCHA, Brock University, 2013.
Mental Health vs Mental Illness
Mental health is defined as “The ability to enjoy life and deal with the challenges you face everyday – whether that involves making choices and decisions, adapting to and coping in difficult situations, or talking about your needs and desires.” (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) (2003), Challenges and Choices, pp 11, Toronto, Ontario.)
This means one is able to go on with their day-to-day activities and function at a normal pace. Even though not everything may go as originally planned she/he is still able to get through the challenges life throws at them. University life often involves many changes and stressors. Many factors may trigger a change in one’s mental health.
Students may face a wide range of concerns including
- Relationship issues
- Adjustment issues
- Violence in relationships
- Body image concerns
- Decision-making issues
- LGBTQ issues
- Social anxiety
- Esteem issues
- Sexual assault
- Eating disorders
- Traumatic events
- Family problems
- Grief and loss
- Disability issues
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
Mental illness is the term used to refer to mental health problems that are diagnosed and treated by a mental health professional. In the medical profession, they are also called “mental disorders,” but this is a term most people are not very comfortable with. Mental illness includes depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, eating disorders, schizophrenia and self-injurious behaviour.
Where the two meet
Mental health problems generally refer to those changes that occur over a period of time or that significantly affect the way a person copes or functions. When these changes in thinking, mood and behaviour are associated with significant distress and impaired functioning, it may be the person is experiencing a mental illness.
The continuum is applicable to all students. Acknowledging one’s own mental health is a crucial aspect in the development of positive well-being. There are many resources at Brock for students to access regardless of where they are on the mental health continuum. For more information on each stage visit More Feet on the Ground.