What is Mental Health?
Mental health refers to a person’s psychological, social and emotional well-being. Like physical health, a person’s mental health can change over time, influencing their thoughts, feelings and behaviour.
Mental Health and Mental Illness
Poor mental health and mental illness are not the same. A person can experience a period of poor mental health and not be diagnosed with mental illness. Similarly, a person can go through times of mental well-being, and still be diagnosed with a mental illness. Diagnosis can only be done by a licenced healthcare professional.
Why is it Important?
Prioritizing positive mental health in all stages of life is important, as it determines how we handle stress, make decisions and relate to those around us. Mental health can impact physical health, future mental health conditions, and academic or professional success.
Test anxiety is a psychological condition where intense distress happens during an assessment. Feelings of temporary helplessness, extreme unease, nausea, dizziness, trembling, sweating and difficulty remembering simple information are just a few symptoms. Test anxiety can be brought on by a fear of failure, being unprepared, and having a poor testing history. While mild stress can help with mental alertness, test anxiety can make it hard to concentrate and accurately perform.
Self-help strategies can provide relief when dealing with test anxiety. Deep breathing exercises, getting enough sleep, replacing negative thoughts with a positive mindset, exercising to release tension, preparing in advance, and communicating with your teacher to set clear expectations, are a few ways to combat it.
Depending on the severity of test anxiety, students are encouraged to speak with their primary care physician or a mental health practitioner.
Work-life balance is the ability to complete work responsibilities, while also fulfilling non-work commitments outside of work hours. Maintaining a healthy balance between personal and professional life can be done by setting clear boundaries, protecting your personal time, managing priorities, scheduling brief breaks, and dividing labour accordingly.
A healthy work-life balance can reduce stress, prevent workplace burnout and fatigue, reduce the risk of workplace injuries, increase productivity and engagement, decrease interpersonal conflict between coworkers and support positive mental health.
Recognizing Signs of Distress
Recognizing signs is the first step in addressing distress.
Signs may include, but are not limited to:
- Physical Changes – Fatigue, low energy, drastic weight loss or weight gain, increase in headaches or stomach pains, disorganized speech and rapid or slurred speech
- Psychological Changes – Isolation, irritability, lack of regard for others, excessive worrying or guilt, crying spells, feelings of helplessness or hopelessness
- Cognitive Changes – Memory issues, frequent mistakes, impaired decision-making
- Changes in School or Workplace – Increase in tardiness, absenteeism, change in social habits, drop in motivation and productivity
Ontario Mental Health Resources
Students can access a variety of Mental Health resources by clicking on any of the links below. Further information can also be requested from campus staff.
- 211 Ontario – Community and Social Resources Search Page https://211ontario.ca/search/
- Bounce Back – Skill building program managed by the Canadian Mental Health Association https://bouncebackontario.ca/
- Breaking Free Online – Confidential wellness and recovery support program https://www.breakingfreeonline.ca/
- Distress Centres of Greater Toronto – Service agency providing emotional support, suicide prevention and crisis intervention https://www.dcogt.com/
- Good2Talk Helpline – Confidential support services for post-secondary students by phone or text https://good2talk.ca/
- Kids Help Phone – Live chat counselling service https://kidshelpphone.ca/live-chat-counselling/
- LGBT Youthline Ontario – Peer-support services via chat, text or telephone https://www.youthline.ca/
- Talk Suicide – Crisis responder service https://talksuicide.ca/
Oxford College students may seek support from LifeWorks (formerly, Morneau Shepell), a human resource and technology company that offers mental health support and internet-based cognitive-behavior therapy (iCBT). For additional information on how to access these services, students may speak to their program director.
What is Mental Health?
How to Ask for Help
Tips to Boost Mental Health
How to Manage Your Mental Health
Breaking the Stigma and Shame of Mental Illness
How to Overcome Test Anxiety
MindYourMind Interactive Tools and Resources