Transitioning into life as a university student can be a tumultuous adjustment for some. You’re entering into an unfamiliar institution, perhaps living in a new place, surrounded by hundreds of new faces and an influx of foreign and confusing information. For those of us who are not generally low-stress, this can feel like the kind of nightmare that you wake from in a cold sweat. Sometimes, the stress and anxiety that the combination of these things causes is too much. Your mental health may suffer. If you find that this is the case and you’re unable to deal with the pressure on your own, there are a lot of resources available to you as a U of T student that it’d be wise to take advantage of.
1) CAPS – Counselling and Psychological Services at the University of Toronto. Located in the Koffler Centre (the building where the bookstore and the health clinic are also housed), CAPS is notorious for a very, very long wait list. This is partially due to a shortage of staff and resources available for the massive population of students who are seeking guidance. With mental health finally breaking into the forefront of Canadian society, it seems as though we are in a transition – ill-equipped to deal with mental health needs but recognizing its growing importance. CAPS is no exception to this rule. CAPS also moves students who are at less risk (see: general feelings of uncomfortability, body image issues) lower down on the waitlist as more serious cases come rolling in (self-harm, suicidal thoughts and tendencies, immediate anger issues). The bottom line is: if you wish to reach out to CAPS, you’ll likely have a phone or in-person consultation, in which after they assess your risk, you might have a longer or shorter time waiting for help based on your particular circumstances. If you can find help elsewhere, then do. They are overloaded.
2) Counseline – Onsite + Online counselling. For those who might be too shy or too socially anxious to receive face-to-face counselling, Counseline offers an online chat-based type of therapy session. Run through the Faculty of Social Work, the in-person sessions offered by Counseline are conveniently steps away from Trinity Proper and St. Hilda’s, sitting in an unassuming building right beside the Bloor-Bedford Tim Hortons. Counseline is quick to gain entry into, and most have found it very useful. Sessions can be booked for once a week, or once every two weeks (an hour long at a time).
3) Green Dot – If you feel as if you’ve been taken advantage of sexually or been a victim of partner violence, Green Dot is an excellent resource to get you the attention that you need and deserve. Visit: http://healthandwellness.utoronto.ca/GreenDot/Where-can-I-get-help.htm
4) The Dean of Students – The office of the Dean of Students at Trinity are comprised of a remarkable group of people – Dean Johnathan Steels and Assistant Dean Adam Hogan (let’s not forget the Dean’s assistant, Kiran :)). Scheduling an e-mail with a member of the team is as easy as sending an e-mail. With a genuine and vested interest in the students at Trin, Adam and Jonathan make time in their busy schedules to connect frightened or frustrated students with the right resources unique to the situation. In any situation where students feel overloaded, these gentlemen are available as a bridge between you and the help that you might need. There are also several dons that live on the property who can be excellent resources to students who are struggling with mental health issues. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 416-978-3612.
The most important takeaway from all of this is that there are several paths that have been made available to you, as a University of Toronto student, to ensure your health and happiness is looked after. You deserve to be listened to and helped. It is only human to not feel perfectly well all of the time – and that is why a lot of these programs have been put into place. If you ever feel like it’s all getting to be a little bit too much, don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. It is the mark of a smart person to watch out for their health – and that includes physical as well as mental. Around the college and in the whole of UofT, there are people who want to see you thrive. The only thing standing in the way of you and your happiness is a couple of steps in the right direction. I’ve gotten started on compiling the information for you, and now it’s up to you to use it – and use it you should.
By: Marissa Martins