Academia before health?

Photo taken by Ju Hyun Kim

By now, I hope that many of us know the importance of mental health and all the complexities that go along with it.

One thing is for certain, the University of Waterloo likes to say it does. In many of my classes there will be a section on the syllabus dedicated to the topic, ensuring us that the school takes mental health seriously and that counselors are available on campus. The availability of these resources is not what I will be discussing today.

What I will address is the lack of a proactive approach for mental health here on campus. If mental health is such a concern to our school, then why are we continuously put in positions that compromise it? I have yet to speak with a student that was not stressed in some shape or form about their studies, social life, co-op interviews, extra-curricular activities, part-time job—and the list goes on. Despite the fact that much improvement can be seen in mental health discussions, I see little improvement in solutions that target the root cause.

I understand that we are here to learn and to challenge ourselves. We are supposed to push ourselves and break out of our comfort zones. Yet, I would also argue that when we are stretched out so thin that we are not eating healthy, sleeping enough, or taking time for ourselves, it becomes impossible for us to be our optimal selves. And this is when we reach our tipping points.

It is hypocritical to tell students that you care about their mental health and continue to over work them. We need to be taught how to take of our mental health from the very beginning of our university career, and not necessarily who to talk to when we need help.

Hannah Hett

3B International Development


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