UNIVERSITY STUDENTS TAKING A MENTAL HEALTH “BREAK”
This week many University students in Ontario have been taking a break from the classroom and spending the week at home with their family, their friends and their textbooks. Traditionally, Universities have always had a mid-term break in February/March which is also known as “Reading Week” or “Spring Break” (depending on where you live). It is intended for students to catch up and begin preparing for the demands associated with the latter part of the semester, but we also know that for so many young adults it’s also a much needed break from reality.
It’s no secret that matters surrounding the Mental Health crisis have been on the rise at an exponential rate and our young adults are especially vulnerable which is why many Ontario Universities (and beyond) have stepped up to the challenge. Gradually over the last 5 or more years many Universities have taken note of this upsurge in Mental Health issues amongst their students and decided that instead of ignoring the problem they would embrace it by adding a “Fall Break” during first semester.
For many University students the adjustment to higher education combined with it possibly being their first time away from home can in itself be overwhelming for anyone, but whether it’s their first year of University or their fifth year more than a quarter of all students will experience a Mental Health crisis at some point during that time, and most often are depression and anxiety related.
Due to these alarming statistics, many of the Universities are now giving their students a brief, yet calculated hiatus from school in first semester as well they hope that it will help the kids stay mentally fit right through to the end of the term. Not all of the Universities have embraced this concept as of now but more than half of the top Ontario schools have joined the cause, ranging from 2 to 5 days off sometime during the month of October and I can only hope that within the next few years more and more schools will continue to follow the trend.
As a parent of 3 teenagers/young adults and as a person who suffers with depression and anxiety I only see the benefits from this added Fall break because no matter what generation you look at, the truth is, it’s never been easy to be young. People in their late teens to early 20’s are most at risk for Mental Health issues and suicide is quickly becoming the number one cause of death among teenagers & young adults today. Some students entering their first year of University nowadays are not even 18 years old yet when the Fall semester begins: how crazy is that?
Even though I said that no matter what generation we grew up in, its never been easy to be young, but I truly believe that the pressure our youth and young adults are facing today could be at an all-time high due to the hastily changing world around them. Between academic demands, social pressures, parent’s expectations, the extremely ruthless post graduate programs and the highly competitive job market (and tell me how these kids will ever afford to purchase their own home one day), many University students feel they are unable to ever relax or unplug for fear they will fail to succeed in this very demanding and stressful world they roam.
So truly it’s no wonder why so many University students are succumbing to the pressures and responsibilities laid upon them by their friends, parents and society as a whole and no matter how they choose to spend their “break” let it be the “break” they need, the “break” they desire in order to take a deep breath, refocus and turn the page to the next chapter of that very heavy textbook they are carrying.