March 19, 2018 | Health, Society
Making our campus a safe space to talk about mental health
I’ve been told that I don’t look like I have obsessive-compulsive disorder or anxiety. That I don’t act like I have those things.
We often assume people with mental health issues present a certain way. So when people try to talk about their depression, or their anxiety, or their OCD, we paint them all with the same brush. In reality, mental health issues don’t look the same for everyone.
And even though everyone knows someone who struggles with their mental health (whether we realize it or not), I very rarely hear anyone speaking about those issues in terms of positives or strengths. We don’t hear about the person who struggles with anxiety, but is coping really well — so well that it doesn’t really affect their day-to-day life.
I can only speak for myself, but my own experience with an OCD diagnosis has a positive side. In spite of my struggles, I’m hyper-organized. And because of that I excel in a job that is intense and chaotic, and where time management is crucial. In that way, OCD actually works to my benefit.
I’ve learned to own my story. To talk about it. To share my experiences, my struggles and my successes, my story of growing up, my education and my employment. I hope it might help to start changing the narrative around mental health.
University is the perfect place to start talking. Share your experiences. Ask questions. Start a conversation. Doing those things made me feel less alone, and eliminated the shame and negativity I felt.
If we can make our classrooms and hallways safe spaces to talk about mental health, I think it’s a good step toward making our future workplaces safe too.
— Shayleen, Bachelor of Child and Youth Care Alum (‘17)
This story is part of Changing Minds: Creating a healthy campus – an initiative that makes mental health a priority. The program connects training opportunities, support services, resources and stories from real people across the MacEwan University community.