Students are taking advantage of mental health support options at Red River College

By Gabrielle Piché

Pamphlets for THRIVE Week sit on a table in the atrium at RRC’S Roblin Centre Campus on Nov. 9. The RRC Students’ Association and the Healthy Minds Healthy College Initiative created THRIVE Week to bring attention to mental health. /GABRIELLE PICHÉ

With exams and tight deadlines at the end of term, Red River College’s Counselling and Accessibility Services sees an increase in students meeting with counsellors.

Breanna Lynn Sawatzky, RRC’s mental health coordinator, said stress builds up. If managed improperly, stress will reach a crisis point around deadlines, exams, or times of change such as starting classes at a new school.

Sawatzky encourages students who feel overwhelmed to book an appointment with a counsellor.

“Some people think you need to know exactly what’s wrong, but you can just feel like, ‘I don’t want to feel this way anymore,’ or, ‘I don’t know what the problem is,’” Sawatzky said.

She said counsellors can help students find the source of their stress. They also show students different techniques for stress management.

Laureen Janzen, manager of RRC’s Counselling and Accessibility Services, said she knows exam time is stressful for students who are balancing their studies while also managing their personal lives.

Laureen Janzen, the manager of Red River College’s Counselling and Accessibility Services, stands outside the Counselling and Accessibility Services offices in RRC’s Roblin Centre on Nov. 22. /GABRIELLE PICHÉ

“Positive mental health is critical to managing academic demands,” Janzen said.

Counselling and Accessibility Services doesn’t have statistics on how many people come in to see a counsellor because of stress-related problems.

“I think some students do have a little bit more stress than normal,” said Cina Chai, a Business Administration student at RRC.

Chai, 40, said she tries to distract herself when she feels overwhelmed from schoolwork.

“Sometimes I just stop reading and drink tea,” Chai said.

Sawatzky said people must find what stress management strategy works for them. There is no “right” way to manage stress, because everyone handles stress differently.

“It’s really important to think about proactive strategies for setting up your life,” said Sawatzky. “We have to set up our life so that we can keep going and reach our goals.”

She said that if students are told by close family and friends their personality has changed, they should listen to the feedback.

“Sometimes we’re not good at noticing where we’re at,” said Sawatzky.

Students wanting to make an appointment with a counsellor can fill out an online registration form on RRC’s website or visit one of Counselling and Accessibility Service’s offices. Their office in the Notre Dame Campus is D102, and they’re found in the Roblin Centre Campus at P210.

A sign guiding the way to Student Support Services in Red River College’s Roblin Centre Campus. Counselling for mental health is available in room P210 at the campus. /GABRIELLE PICHÉ