Hi, my name is Brooklin! I am studying Health Science and Biology at Western University. I am doing a practicum with Inclusion Canada for my first term! This means I am working with Inclusion Canada to gain practical skills and knowledge related to my field of study.
In this blog post, I will share my experience with mental health in university. I will share strategies I use to balance schoolwork and well-being. I will also reflect on how accessible these strategies are to people with an intellectual disability.
My Life as a University Student
Living on your own, while handling schoolwork can be a big change for students. This change can negatively impact mental health. In Canada, 95% of post-secondary students feel overwhelmed and exhausted. 83.7% struggle with anxiety (Moghimi, et al., 2023).
As a university student, I face lots of academic, social, and personal challenges. These include feeling stressed over hard exams, financial stress due to the cost of school, and pressure to fit in with others. There have been times when I have not slept much before a big exam because I feel so anxious. Balancing my health and schoolwork can be overwhelming!
Luckily, I have outlets that help me face these challenges. When I begin to feel too stressed, I like to go to the gym, talk to a friend, or play hockey. These outlets help me reset and face my problem with a new perspective. I can reach out to support services on campus for counseling to help if I am in an unhealthy headspace.
Life of a Student with an Intellectual Disability
The theme for this year’s Mental Health Day is that mental health is a universal human right. College and university students with an intellectual disability face the same problems I do, but they can face different barriers to mental health.
For example, joining the hockey league I’m in was tricky, and expensive. There are a lot of steps to sign up for hockey. This might be hard to do without support. People with an intellectual disability often make less money because they are treated unfairly at school and work. Without funding, there’s a chance a person with an intellectual disability couldn’t afford to join a sports league.
I’m also learning that there are social barriers to participation. An adult with an intellectual disability may not have learned how to play hockey when they were younger. They may have been excluded from sports in childhood due to stigma and biases.
People with an intellectual disability can’t always access resources to support their well-being so it is important that they have access to counselors. There aren’t many mental health professionals who are trained to help people with an intellectual disability. We are not giving people with an intellectual disability the mental health support they need in college or university.
We need to support the emotional well-being of people with an intellectual disability. Together, we must remove barriers to mental well-being and mental health care. We must make campus support services more accessible so we can have an inclusive education environment. After all, mental health is a universal human right.
Moghimi, Elnaz, et al. “Mental health challenges, treatment experiences, and care needs of post-secondary students: a cross-sectional mixed-methods study.” BMC public health 23.1 (2023): 1-16.