Off the Record. 29 September 2012.
Afternoon readers (3:52pm PST),
Well this is a rather interesting situation. I am completely exhausted and cannot bring myself to finish the opinion piece I initially had in mind for today. I just don’t feel that it is ready and if I publish it today, it will be a pile of tripe and proceed to embarrass me publicly. Nevertheless, I have this Off the Record to offer to you for today. Again I am sorry, it’s just I do not feel the piece is ready and it will be a great shame to me if I was to produce something of substandard quality.
So where do I begin with this week’s Off the Record. Ah yes, student depression. I was at the office of my dentist the other day to get a teeth cleaned and I read an article in Maclean’s Magazine in regards to the rising number of depression cases amongst our university students. Now this is a bit of an interesting story as I sort of can relate to this on a personal level. Long story short I have experienced ups and downs, I believe everyone has. However the article continued to elaborate on just how serious the situation has become. When a university in Ontario has to ask the municipal government of the town to install anti-suicide nets, that is when the situation becomes grim.
Indeed there are pressures, many pressures that have a negative influence on our students. Family, school, peer, social, are but a few that exist on a rather long list of pressures that our youth must endure in this day and age. Maclean’s points to a small demographic that were, back in their elementary and secondary school days, high achievers. Top marks and the best in athletics, and then all of a sudden they become the “new kids on base” so to speak and have to adjust to not being the top shot anymore. While Maclean’s touched on a fairly important portion of the student population, I must add that this depression cycle does extend to the entire student population and not just former ‘top guns’. Even if the students were not high achievers in their earlier days, the grim reality of the job market, intense competition in some cases for graduate studies or professional schools, and pressure from within tends to resonate with all students and not just those with an over-inflated ego.
I remember having to go into the counselors’ office to speak to someone with regards to personal issues, and I am certain others have as well. This is not uncommon, as seeking help is seen as a positive thing (and rightfully so), thus students are more likely to seek help. This may assist in easing the pain, but there are moments when even counseling fails and we have cases of suicide. This is why a university located near my geographic location shuts down their bell tower during exam period, so to prevent overly stressed students from jumping off the highest ledge they could reach.
There is no shame in seeking help, and while domestic students may understand that, overseas students might not. It is important to inform them that help is available, and that suicide is not the option when faced with pressures within and without. No one will think any less of you, as you are simply taking care of your mental health much like seeking a doctor for physical pains. However, overseas students come from very different societies that may demand different things from them as opposed to ours. Thus it is more complex when dealing with overseas students as their background might be entirely different from those who have grown up in countries like the US and Canada.
This issue of student depression is not likely to go away anytime soon. Universities and colleges that can, should conduct annual surveys to be better informed of the current status of their student body. While not every student is going to answer, hopefully the sample group is large enough for them to draw data so that they can better their counseling services and prevent further suicides. It is an interesting time to be growing up. The world around us changes and moves ever so quickly and sometimes all we need is just time to ourselves, to reflect, meditate, and forget about our worldly troubles for a good solid five hours or so. That way when we re-enter reality we are refreshed and energized, ready to tackle the challenges life throws at us.
I hope you enjoyed this Off the Record. Please, if you are a student and are suffering from depression (temporary or medical), seek help. Those counselors are there to assist you, and there is absolutely no shame in going to their offices and just talking to them about all your worldly troubles. It is safe and confidential, and most importantly you will walk away feeling better. Speak to friends, and or family as well about this. If they truly care for you, they will listen.
Okay this is me done for today. Check back Wednesday for another addition to this blog. Thank you all for reading, and I’ll see you next time.