While at college, many personal problems can end up affecting your academic performance
. Sometimes sorting through the issues affecting you either inside or outside the classroom can help you to reach your full potential in your program of study
. The options below give you more information about various problems and concerns that students typically run into at college, and included with each are some quick tips that other students have found helpful regarding ways to cope or get further help.
Click on a question to learn more:
- Feeling Hopeless? Like You're Running Out of Options?
- Feeling Sad or Lost? Wondering about Depression?
- Worries Getting the Best of You? Feeling Overwhelmed with Assignments and Work? Wondering about Anxiety?
- Experienced Something Traumatic in your Life that is Interfering with your Academic Performance?
- Fighting with a Friend, Partner, Family Member, or Roomate? Wondering How to Figure it Out?
- Using Drugs and Alcohol and Finding it's a Problem, or Other People Have Mentioned it Might be A Problem, Even as a Joke?
- Feeling Like Your Life is Out of Balance? That Something is Missing?
- Feeling Like You're Never Good Enough? Are Fears of Failing Keeping you From Being Successful at School?
- Have Questions about Your Sexuality or Sexual Orientation? Others Don't Seem to Understand or Accept Who You Are?
- Thinking About Your Weight and Appearance All the Time? Is this Preoccupation Hindering Your Ability to Succeed?
- Are You Finding You're Losing Hours in front of the TV or Internet, Texting, Gaming, or Gambling Online?
- You've Just Gotten a Mental Health Diagnosis...Now What?
- Need Some Motivation or Insight? Or Having Trouble with Just Being Yourself?
Is there a concern that is not addressed here? Visit the Resources, Links, and Videos page for additional resources
At various points through the semester, some students do feel hopeless, sometimes to the point where they think about suicide. Some students also come up with a plan to carry out suicide because they feel there is no hope. If this is happening for you or you are afraid that you might try to end your life, know that there are always options and always solutions, even if you can’t see them right now. Many students from Sheridan have gone through similar feelings and have come through it by realising that waiting out the rough times can lead to the day where things will change. One student from Sheridan always reminded herself that she couldn’t end her life because maybe she was just one day away from the miracle that would help her stay alive. By no longer being alive, she would miss this opportunity. Counsellors listen and can help you to find YOUR miracle, because obstacles always look bigger when we are alone. Contact someone now to talk to directly and to help you get through this moment.
Call one of these numbers now.
- Kids Help Phone for Young Adults, ages 18-24 – 1 800 668 6868
- Distress Centre Peel – 905 278 7208
- Distress Centre Oakville – 905 849 4541
When you are sure you can keep yourself safe until we are open (our hours are 9am-5pm), then make an appointment with us – a Sheridan Counsellor.
- Davis Campus in Brampton – 905-845-9430 ext. 5400
- Trafalgar and STC Campus in Oakville - 905-845-9430 ext. 2521
- HMC in Mississauga - 905-845-9430 ext. 2528
We are here to help you.
Reach out and get connected – there is always a way out, there are always solutions, no matter how hopeless things might seem right now. If you need help right now, GET HELP.
If you have felt suicidal in the past or are worried about how you are feeling currently you can develop a “crisis plan” that will help you figure out how and where to get help, who to talk to in times of need, and what kind of things work for you to lift your mood. A crisis plan helps to remind you of these things when you’re feeling down because it can be hard to think of options and solutions when you are in a low mood. You can start to build one here:
Sheridan counsellors can help in building your crisis kit. We do not judge you or your situation. You can talk to us about what’s going on for you in a confidential and supportive environment.
- Mental Health Helpline – Email, Chat, or Call for immediate assistance
- Steps to take to help you if you are considering taking your life, from mindyourmind.ca
- If You Are Considering Suicide, Read This First
- Kevin Hines Video – Suicide survivor who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and lived, who shares his story of what he learned from his experience and what he would have missed out on in life if he had died
- The Jack Project – Suicide awareness and Help Line - 1 800 668 6868
- The Trevor Project – Suicide Helpline for LGBTQ Youth - 1 866 488 7386
- Kids Help Phone - Free phone counselling or online counselling and chat with a certified and trained counsellor for youth in College and University - 1 800 668 6868
- If you are having suicidal thoughts, please contact someone immediately, or go to the nearest emergency room, or call 911: they are there to listen, and they want to help:
- Kids Help Phone for Young Adults, ages 18-24 – 1 800 668 6868
- Distress Centre Peel 905 278 7208
- Distress Centre Oakville 905 849 4541
Everyone feels down at various points in life. Sadness is a natural part of our emotions. Sometimes we get the impression that we should ‘get over it’, ‘stop the drama’, that feeling sad is wrong and we should just stop feeling sad. Sometimes people in our lives even tell us this directly, even though they might have the best intentions at heart. But sometimes it is important to feel sad, and it is okay to feel sad even if others are trying to cheer us up. It is okay to grieve and mourn a death or loss, or to feel down when something in life has not gone the way we had hoped. These are situations where taking time out to feel sad is actually helpful and necessary.
However, if you are feeling that being sad is causing you to be unable to function in school and in life the way you would like to, and that your marks may be suffering because of this, you should consider coming into counselling. If feeling sad is causing you to be unable to attend classes, complete assignments, or study effectively, or it is keeping you from connecting with other people, it is time to talk to a counsellor.
This still does not necessarily mean you have depression, but it does mean it is time to talk to someone who can help you look at what is going on. Many students at Sheridan have talked to a counsellor about these kinds of experiences, and even those who are diagnosed with depression continue to be successful both academically and personally. With or without medication, together we can find the skills and strategies that work for you.
There are also things that you can start to do for yourself right now to help with feelings of sadness. Try these ideas below.
- Do things that you enjoy - Or used to enjoy, even if you don’t feel in the mood. Pushing yourself to reengage will help lift your mood.
- This Too Shall Pass - Remind yourself that “this too shall pass”. Mood constantly fluctuates; picture these emotions as passing you by along the journey through life.
- Don’t Trust Depression - Remind yourself not to always trust your emotions when you are feeling depressed. Being depressed often incites negative thinking about yourself and your situation, which tend to go away as your mood improves.
- Write A List of Positives - Remind yourself of the positives in your life by writing out a list of things that make you happy or that were good about your day. Try keeping a journal here.
- Break Things Down - Break large tasks into small ones to help with the feeling of being overwhelmed, and do small things at a time. This can give you the motivation to continue moving forward.
- Don’t Make Major Life Decisions - Do not make major life decisions when you are feeling sad, such as changing jobs, ending relationships, or quitting school. When you are depressed you often see the world through a negative filter that alters an accurate perception of your life. Consult with others who know you well, or a counsellor, who may have a more objective view of your situation.
Anxious feelings are very normal, and are our body’s natural reaction to feeling threatened. Different people feel anxious in different situations based on how vulnerable they feel, which can differ based on past experiences and/or our differing beliefs and attitudes about various situations.
Situations that may make us feel anxious can include things such as leaving home or adapting to life at college, moving to a new area or country, giving presentations, being in certain social situations, managing college work load and busy exam schedules, handling relationships or coping with a lack of relationships, sexuality issues, or embarking on the next life step when finishing college. Sometimes fears can also be even more specific, such as worrying about social acceptance and approval, or worrying about failure, criticism or rejection from others.
The first thing to know is that anxiety is entirely normal. Everyone feels anxious when they are in stressful situations where they feel vulnerable, so being anxious does not mean that you are 'weak' or 'abnormal'. Certain levels of stress can also be helpful by motivating us, helping us to focus, and helping us work more efficiently. Anxiety around new situations is to be expected.
To understand what anxiety is all about, it typically has three parts. It usually involves an emotion like fear or nervousness, a body sensation like fast breathing, shaking, sweating, and/or fast heart rate, and also has thoughts related to the fear, such as “I’m going to fail, people might laugh at me,” etc. These thoughts can then affect our behaviour and may cause us to avoid certain things. However, too much anxiety can also interfere with living a normal life. If you are finding that your anxiety is interfering with your life or is causing negative consequences, such as putting off school work or stopping work altogether, avoiding people or certain situations, having trouble sleeping, drinking too much, or taking drugs, it is time to see a counsellor.
There are many things you can try on your own in the meantime to help manage anxiety. Try some of these quick tips below.
- Stress Busters - Try some stress busting activities here.
- Eating and Sleeping - Make sure you are sleeping, eating and exercising regularly. You should be getting about 7-8 hours of sleep a night, and eating three or more small meals a day, and getting at least 30 minutes of exercise at least three times a week.
- Caffeine and Sugar - Reduce or eliminate your caffeine and sugar intake.
- Deep Breathing Exercises – Many can be found on YouTube, or you can come into counselling for some other ideas. Try this example.
- Progressive Muscular Relaxation – A process of systematically tightening and relaxing muscle groups in your body. Move from the toes to the head and back down again, while monitoring and regulating breathing. Try this example here.
- Imagery – Imagine places or times in your life that have been soothing and relaxing, and take time out to just imagine yourself in that place. Try this example here.
- Five Senses - Use the five senses to calm yourself. Try using incense, lighting candles, squeezing a stress ball, watching calming videos, listening to music, or reading a book.
- Acceptance and Tracking - Notice and accept your anxiety. Label the level of your fear from 0 to 10 and keep track as it goes up and down. Notice that it doesn't stay at a very high level for more than a few seconds. When the fear comes, accept it. Wait and give it time to pass without running away from it.
- Talk About Your Anxiety - Sometimes having another person to share some of your fears or worries with can help reduce your anxiety. Come into counselling to learn new skills and approaches.
- Time Management and Organisation - Sometimes getting life a bit more organised can help reduce stress levels. Try some of these tips here.
Whatever you have gone through in your past, from abuse, violence, sexual assault, death of a loved one, or anything else, the choice to share your story is up to you. You won’t feel pressure in counselling; you set the pace, and the choice to return to counselling is always yours. Visit the staff bio page to find a range of counsellors who you feel you might connect with.
However, this might be the perfect time to get support for whatever trauma you may have experienced in the past or are currently going through in your life by visiting our free counselling services. Getting help and support can make the school year easier, and can help you to achieve all the academic and personal success you are capable of achieving. In counselling, there is no judgement. You will only find support from a team of people who want you to be as successful as you can be, who can help you to achieve your full academic potential, and who want to help you enjoy all the positivity you have coming your way. Reach out and get connected to make your experience at Sheridan as positive as possible.
- Assess Your Readiness – Are you ready to talk about this experience again? Would talking about it make it better, or worse?
- Assess Your Supports – Do you feel that if you started to talk about your experience, you would have the right supports in place to help you through in tough times?
- Try Journalling – Sometimes writing out thoughts and ideas can help to make sense of a complicated internal experience. This can be brought into counselling.
- Reassess safety – Are you currently safe? If not, please seek help immediately. However, if your situation has changed and you are currently safe, as you find yourself drawn back into uncomfortable thoughts, remind yourself that you are in a safe place, and bring your awareness back into the room or space that you are in, practicing bringing yourself back out of difficult memories into the present.
- Mind Your Mind – Grief and Loss information
- Bereaved Families of Ontario - Provides opportunities for the bereaved to share their experiences; and to receive support, understanding, and compassion from others who are also bereaved offers peer support groups and other supportive programming and workshops
Overwhelming conflicts with important people in our lives can impact our ability to concentrate and succeed academically. Oftentimes, it can be helpful to get an outside perspective on the situation, which can be provided through counselling. In the meantime, there are some helpful approaches listed below that can assist you in handling the conflict in your life so that you can regain the concentration you need for school.
- Step Into the Other Person’s Shoes - We often assume the way we see things is how everyone else does, too. Allow yourself to see things from another perspective.
- Begin With the End in Mind - When in conflict, ask yourself what you want to see as the end result of this conflict, and then change your approach to meet this goal.
- Relationships Come First - Make sure that good relationships are the first priority. Listen first; talk second. Keep people and problems separate.
- Keep C.A.L.M. - Clarify, Address, Listen, and Manage. Clarify both points of view. Address the main issues that have come up. Listen to the other person’s thoughts and feelings. Manage the outcome and conclude what the resolution is for you both.
- Use “I” Statements - These types of comments open the floor for discussion and resolution instead of creating a defensive response. For instance, attacking statements like “You never do the dishes” make people jump to the defensive. “I” statements like “I feel like you don’t notice how much I do around the house, which makes me feel lonely and sad” allow the other person to hear what you’re really feeling, and it opens up the discussion.
- The Only Thing You Can Control is You - Remember that the only thing you can always control is yourself. If there was gossip going around amongst your friends, how would you want others to see you in how you handled the conflict?
If the arguments you are having are more serious than a simple disagreement, and you are feeling bullied, attacked, or abused emotionally or physically, it is time to come in to talk to a counsellor. See the links below for further resources.
- The Bully Project– a documentary on bullying and the experiences associated with it, as well as resources for students
- SAVIS – Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention Services - 24hr Crisis line for support and information on what to do about abuse and assault, and also provides various other programs and support, call 905 875 1555
- Trafalgar Campus Resources
- Halton Women’s Place provides shelter and crisis services for women and their dependent children who have been physically, emotionally, financially and sexually abused
- Halton Shelters provides emergency shelter to any individual in need
- Halton Family Services offers a Women's Group Program and a Safety Zone program for women and their children to get connected and get support. It also offers various other programs and resources
- Davis and HMC Campus Resources
- Women’s Interim Place Shelter provides free shelter for women who have experienced violence or abuse, with or without children, who can stay up to 4 months. Crisis Line: (905) 403-0864 / (905) 676-8515
- Our Place Peel 2 (Youth Shelter) provides shelter, support and hope for homeless and disadvantaged youth aged 16 - 21 in the Region of Peel
- Sexual Assault & Rape Crisis of Peel - (905) 273-9442 24/7 hour crisis line
- Family Services of Peel offers free e-counselling for the free program of Support Services for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse. It also offers free consultation with a lawyer regarding family law, and free walk-counselling as late as 8pm in Brampton and Mississauga.
Although some amount of social drinking is often very normal, drinking and drug use can easily get out of hand. Take this quiz to help you determine whether your use may be abuse (Note: this quiz is intended as a preliminary self assessment, not a diagnostic tool).
Simply answer yes or no to each question:
1. Do others often comment (even jokingly) about your drinking or drug use? Y/N
2. Have you ever fallen or injured yourself or others under the influence? Y/N
3. Do you sometimes drink or use drugs when you are alone? Y/N
4. Have you missed classes or work because of using, or a hangover? Y/N
5. Do you ever forget even some of what happened after a night of using? Y/N
6. Do you have money problems caused by drinking or doing drugs? Y/N
7. Is drinking or using drugs affecting your studying and/or grades? Y/N
8. Have you ever lied about your use, or hid evidence from others? Y/N
9. Do you think your thinking process or your memory have been affected? Y/N
10. Once you start to drink or use drugs, is it hard to stop? Y/N
What’s your score? If you answered ‘yes’ to even one of the above questions, you may have a problem with drinking or using drugs. Come in to see a counsellor to talk more about your use and other strategies that could be helpful. See the links below for more information on how to get started on regaining control of your drinking and/or drug use.
For more information on alcohol use, including average calories consumed and money spent per year, see Check Your Drinking.
For Information on how to quit smoking, see Leave the Pack Behind.
- Addicted.com - For other addictions and quick self-assessments on sex addictions, alcoholism, drug addictions, gambling addictions, food addictions, shopping addictions, and tobacco addictions.
- Addictions Ontario - for a helpline for alcohol and drug addictions, as well as gambling addictions.
- Know The Score - For more information about almost any drug and its effects, visit a great site based out of Scotland, although the legal information won’t be applicable.
- ADAPT - Alcohol Drug & Gambling Assessment Prevention & Treatment Services offers assessment, treatment, referrals and other service.
- DART - Ontario Drug and Alcohol Registry of Treatment – offers a free and confidential drug and alcohol helpline, email, or online chat to get help or ask questions.
- Alcoholics Anonymous- For a list of AA meeting groups in Ontario.
- CAMH - Centre for Addictions and Mental Health provides services for addictions, including assessment, Aboriginal services, cocaine, alcohol, nicotine, gambling and more.
Sometimes when starting a new program or new endeavour in life, it can take time to regain the balance in life that you once had. It can be difficult to balance everything you want to do as well as all that is expected of you. Sometimes, the basics like eating and sleeping regularly can get missed along the way when exams and assignments build up. Remind yourself that the end-goal of graduating will be twice as successful if you are also happy, healthy, and energised throughout the whole journey.
If your concern hasn’t been mentioned here, perhaps speaking to a counsellor can help you to figure out where the balance in your life may be missing. Sometimes this feeling can be difficult to figure out on your own, and talking about it with someone who has an outside perspective can help to determine where these feelings are coming from. See below for some ideas to check into that may help you to regain balance in your life.
- Organise Your Time - Start by organising the time that you do have. Get an agenda and a wall calendar, or make a schedule on your phone. Write in your schedule for classes and studying, etc. Try these time management and organisation tips here.
- Use “Found Time” - Find blocks of time you can use more effectively. Study while taking transit, use the learning commons between classes, or make a lunch study group. This will free up your time after school hours.
- Make Sleep a Priority - Studies show that sleeping between studying and before tests increases your performance on tests much more than pulling “all-nighters”.
- Check Your Eating - With some of the fast food options out there, convenience can outweigh health. When you are what you eat, make sure you’re giving your brain the right food. The Health Centre can give you more information on how to eat right.
- Allow Time for You - Schedule yourself some time for things you enjoy. If you set your schedule with no time for yourself, you may be heading for burnout. Re-energising with friends or hobbies can make you more productive in the long run.
- Complete a quiz from Check up From the Neck Up to get an idea about your general mental health
- Take a look at this guide from CMHA to check if any of these areas and tips could be helpful in finding balance in your life
- Have a read through this article from the New York Times called "The Busy Trap" to re-evaluate your priorities and see a different perspective
The pressure to perform well in school and in your life can sometimes be overwhelming. Sometimes the expectation of having to be perfect can make you freeze before you’ve even started an assignment or task. Whether it is pressure from family, yourself, or others, being a perfectionist can often hinder you more than it helps you.
If your inner voice keeps telling you that you’re not living up to the expectations set for you, this can impact your self-esteem, and you may start to feel worthless. Over time, this can even lead to feelings of depression. If you think that your inner voice is actually an inner critic, you are not alone. If these thoughts and feelings are negatively affecting your everyday life, and interfering with your school year, it is time to come in to counselling. In counselling, you can learn how to slow down your inner critic before it affects your school year or your mood, either in one-on-one sessions or in a group.
In the meantime, here are some quick tips you can try to help change your inner critic into a supportive voice:
- What’s Your Inner Voice Saying? – Listen in to your inner thoughts and try to identify common sayings, thoughts, or images that go through your mind. Write these down.
- Where Did These Thoughts Come From? – Once you have some of these on paper, identify where these may have come from. Is it something your parents have always said to you? An event or incident from your past? Cultural expectations? Etc.
- How Realistic Are They? – Identify how realistic these thoughts are by using a rating scale, such as 1 = not really true at all, and 10 = this is 100% true.
- What Might Be Better, More Realistic, or More Helpful? – Begin to think about what voice you would like in your head instead. If the only thing you can 100% control in your life is yourself, wouldn’t it be better if you were on your own side? What would you like to be saying to yourself? Begin to actively practice this.
- Practice Makes Perfect – When beginning to actively practice saying positive and encouraging things to yourself, it may feel odd, or like you are lying to yourself. This is natural, because any time we begin a new skill, it always takes time for it to feel normal and comfortable. Keep practicing, and soon it will begin to feel more natural and will start making a difference.
- Get a Coach – Come see a counsellor to learn even more ways to make this practice effective. Additionally, you can research Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to find more tips, charts, and approaches to try in your own life.
Concerns about sexual orientation are common and natural, and there is a wealth of support and information for the LGBTTIQQ2SA community. Sometimes talking to a counsellor can be helpful to figure out what your thoughts and feelings might mean or how to handle them. A counsellor can also provide a confidential space to discuss what you may be feeling, and can help you figure out strategies to get connected and supported. They can even help you to make a plan about how to tell your family and friends about your sexual orientation if this is a goal for you.
There are many different supports available to you for difficult times in life, and always remember that It Gets Better. Sheridan’s Student Union has the Sheridan Pride club or the Gay Straight Alliance that you can also get involved with and gain support as a member of one of these groups. Visit the links below for more information on various organisations, associations, and projects from the LGBTTIQQ2SA community for support, connection, and inspiration.
- HOPE - Halton Organisation for Pride and Education offers one on one counselling, as well as social events, support, and information.
- It Gets Better – A campaign of videos from celebrities as well as every day youth and adults sharing their story on how life gets better, and not to give up hope during difficult times arise in dealing with your sexual orientation. See here for a video from It Gets Better Canada.
- The Trevor Project: Preventing Suicide for LGBTQ Youth - 1 866 488 7386
- NOH8 Campaign – supporting and raising awareness regarding LGBTQ rights.
- FCKH8 Campaign - supporting LGBTQ rights in a provocative campaign.
- You Can Play – a campaign aimed at equal rights for all athletes to be able to play sports – “If you can play, you can play.”
- To My 7th Grade Self – a video from the perspective of bullies looking back on their actions towards LGBTQ youth and sharing their insight towards change.
- LGBTQ Inspiration - Same Love by Macklemore
- Born This Way Foundation – Supporting and empowering youth and a portal to share stories of bravery.
- The Laramie Project – a play based on the experiences of the town of Laramie, where the hate crime murder of gay teen Matthew Shepard took place. To learn more about Matthew’s story and the recent events to come from it, see:
Weight loss and physical appearance have reached a new high of importance in our society, and symbols of what is attractive are everywhere in the media. This can lead us to feel pressured to reach the standards that appear to be set for us in the media. With each new weight loss fad that comes out, it can be hard not to feel the urge to diet or to work out excessively when the image in the mirror is not the same as those in the magazines. The trick, however, is that the media images have all been PhotoShopped, often times, very drastically. Models are on constant diets and often suffer from anorexia as a result of pressures from the industry. Male models are often taking steroids that can lead to sterility. We compare ourselves to images that are not even real.
We are often left thinking that we need to take drastic measures to ‘measure up.' However, there are ways to eat and exercise to maintain a healthy weight without dieting, binging, or purging. The nurses at the Health Centre have resources to help you plan for eating and living the right way for you.
If you already are subscribing to the latest diet and your weight keeps fluctuating up and down drastically, or if you are binging and purging, or if you have almost stopped eating altogether, a counsellor can listen without judgement about what is going on and what you would like to change. Support is available; reach out and start the conversation.
In addition to eating and dieting practices, the way you feel about your body can also have a significant impact on your mood and your confidence level. This can sometimes hinder you from feeling comfortable in class situations or other parts of your educational journey. If this sounds like it might be describing you, then come in to talk to a counsellor about some different tools and skills to address your body image and self-esteem. See the quick tips below for some suggestions to start reassessing how you feel about your body-image, and visit the links below to start learning more about body image and self-esteem.
- Check your Comparisons – Reassess who you are noticing and comparing yourself to on a regular basis. Do you seem to always pick the best looking people out of the crowd to compare yourself with? Begin to actively look around at all people, shapes, and sizes to get a more realistic understanding of body image.
- Research Reality – Look up information on average body shape, size, history of what has been considered beautiful or handsome, and learn about the practices in the media around PhotoShoppping so you can accurately understand what is normal, healthy, and attractive. See the links below for more information.
- Reassess Your Mirror Routine – When you stop to look in the mirror, do you automatically look at all the things you don’t like about yourself? We all have things that we dislike about ourselves, but there are also always things that are attractive as well. Re-shape your routine to notice all your good qualities first, and get your inner voice back on your own side.
- Remember It’s a Package Deal – Even though it may be cliché, outer beauty is only one small part of what makes people attractive. Remember that your smile and your personality can quite honestly make people’s perceptions of your physical appearance change considerably. Smiling and laughing more often will also make you feel better about yourself altogether, and when you refocus your attention more on who you are and less on how you look, you’ll find the outcome is much deeper and more meaningful.
In today’s technology-centred society, it seems everyone has a smart phone attached to their hip, a tablet in their hand, and a laptop on their desk at all times. In fact, it can be a real effort to disconnect from the constant messaging, texting, and emailing from all sides, even when you are face-to-face with a friend or loved one. New etiquette at the dinner table no longer requires you to think about which fork to use first, but how to handle incoming calls and texts during an outing. Theatres no longer focus on not talking during a movie, but on turning your phones off so you don’t call or text. All too often, you notice groups of people around you that are meant to be connecting with each other, but instead are connecting with their phones and texting to other people while standing right next to each other in silence.
With all this pressure to respond and connect through technology, sometimes life can get out of balance. Sometimes Internet, TV, YouTube, texting, and online gaming or gambling can become what we are spending the majority of our time doing. It can even be hard to pull away from these things to study or finish projects and assignments for class. Sometimes even focusing in class can be compromised. See the quick tips below for some simple ways to start regaining balance in your life. However, if you stop to take a really good look at how much time you are spending gaming online, using the internet, texting, or even gambling online, and you realise things are getting out of hand, you may benefit from coming in to counselling to discuss how to regain balance and reduce your use of these items.
In the meantime, you can try the tips below to get started on regaining some balance in your life.
- Make a Reality Check Log – Take one week and accurately keep a log of how much time you are spending on the internet or on your phone. Average out your daily use and compare it to in-person activities you are participating in. Look for a balance of various activities.
- Schedule Cell and Internet Black Outs – Notify friends and family of times you are going “cell-free”, and then take black-out times of internet and cell-free nights or days.
- Re-Prioritise – Make a deal with yourself that the person in front of you is more important than the one texting you on the phone. Turn your phone off over dinners and during outings and live in the present moment. Texts can wait.
- Put Things in Perspective - Re-assess the urgency of texts, Facebook, online games, or TV. If you don’t respond right away, or if you were to disconnect for a few days, what could be the worst that would happen? Will this TV show, online game, or Facebook update matter in five years? Ten years? Take some time to reassess your priorities to put life back in balance.
- Check Your Gambling - Note any online gambling you are engaging in. It doesn’t have to occur every day to potentially be a problem. If you feel the need to be secretive about it, can’t control when you’re doing it, or are gambling even when you don’t have the money, you should come talk to someone and see the extra resources below.
- Video Game Addictions.org - Visit this site to get more information and support for video game and internet addiction.
- On-Line Gamers Anonymous - For more information on gaming addictions and information on support groups.
- Canadian Public Health Association - Article about online gambling’s origins, how it can start, when it becomes a concern, who is at risk, and how to get help.
- Online Gambling - For more information on gambling addictions, signs and symptoms, some common myths and facts, and information on how to help yourself or a family member or loved one.
- ADAPT - Alcohol Drug & Gambling Assessment Prevention & Treatment Services offers assessment, treatment, referrals and other service.
- CAMH - Centre for Addictions and Mental Health provides services for addictions, including assessment, Aboriginal services, cocaine, alcohol, nicotine, gambling, and more.
- Addicted.com- For other addictions and quick self-assessments on sex addictions, alcoholism, drug addictions, gambling addictions, food addictions, shopping addictions, and tobacco addictions.
- Addictions Ontario - for a helpline for alcohol and drug addictions, as well as gambling addictions.
Mental health diagnoses can often be scary or frightening, especially at first, and can sometimes make people question a lot about themselves, their futures, and how they now fit into the world. One thing to understand about medical diagnoses is that they are based on a “medical model”, which has come to the forefront of medicine since the 1950’s. There are other models out there to help explain certain symptoms and experiences, however, the medical model does have some benefits that can help explain why it is so broadly used today.
A diagnosis is made by using professional judgement by comparing a person’s symptoms and experiences with criteria from a large medical book called the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual – 4th Edition (DSM-IV). Interestingly, the 5th edition (DSM-5) is coming out this year in 2013, and many of the current categories of diagnoses will shift and change. This indicates the fluctuation nature of diagnoses within the medical model.
So why are diagnoses necessary at all? To help understand this, think of the periodic table. This was created so that all scientists could speak a common language when referring to elements, even if they spoke German, French, English, or any other language. It gave them common ground on which to discuss and investigate how things worked. The DSM can be thought of as the “common language.” This helps medical and mental health professionals have a framework to reference so that they can work more efficiently for you, and so they can have what is known as an evidence-based practice (which means treatment that has been researched) to best help people with common symptoms. To know who has what symptoms in common and what best helps them, a label is required, and this comes in the form of a mental health diagnosis.
All mental health diagnoses are treatable. Many are fluid and change over time, or even disappear over time with treatment and/or medication. Some are dormant for lengthy periods of time, and may resurface at other times. Many people with identical diagnoses experience their emotional and mental health differently.
What you need to know now: A mental health diagnosis is not a death sentence, nor does it necessarily mean it is permanent. If your doctor indicated “permanent” on any documentation for the college, this means the diagnosis is likely permanent for the duration of your education at the college, not necessarily permanent for life.
A diagnosis is a way for mental health professionals to get you the best help possible and to work with you to achieve your greatest successes. By having a common label, this allows your medical and mental health professionals to access researched approaches to treatment that have been found to be most successful for other people with similar symptoms as yourself, and this gives you the best chance for your overall success. The label itself is fluid – it is created by humans, and can be changed by humans. The most important piece is your experience with your diagnosis and how you approach managing your mental and emotional health. Start the conversation with counselling and find out other ways you can best help yourself, and seek the supports that will assist you in your journey through life and through college.
See these links for more information and resources on mental health diagnoses and what to do next.
- Your Education – Your Future - See CMHA’s guide to how to manage, plan, fund, advocate, succeed, and more, in your college program with a mental health diagnosis.
- Understanding Mental Illness – From CMHA, a guide for information on various mental illnesses, all of which can be helped with treatment.
- Consumer Guide - A guide to understanding mental illness in broader terms, written by individuals who have experienced mental health diagnoses; what this means, alternate perspectives, and empowerment of the individual undergoing the experience, written out of Australia.
- Time Management and Organisation - Try these tips and suggestions from CMHA's guide on how to succeed in school with a mental health diagnosis.
Need Some Motivation or Insight? Or Having Trouble Just Being Yourself?
Sometimes we all need some insight, or a pick-me-up to inspire us when we're down. Sometimes it can be hard to find the courage to just be ourselves in the midst of all the pressure, expectations, and real risk of loss, heartache, and disappointment in life. Check out some of the videos below when you just need a bit of inspiration to help you find your own voice, your own ideas, take a leap of courage, and find the strength to accomplish all that you were meant to in life.