Mental illness can affect anyone. Make sure to reach out if you need help./WILLIAM KLIPPENSTEIN

It’s 2AM. You’re running on three hours of sleep, you’ve only eaten fast food for the past week,
and you have an assignment due in the morning. Sound familiar?


Students undergo a lot of stress during their studies, which can deteriorate their mental health.
The Globe and Mail reported that one in five postsecondary students is suffering from some form
of mental illness.


Students need to understand mental illness and how to cope with it. Breanna Sawatzky, Red
River College’s mental health coordinator, and Sam Cahatol, a University of Winnipeg graduate
who has struggled with mental illness her whole life, gave The Projector a few tips regarding
mental health.


1. Recognize that Everyone is Vulnerable


The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health reported that 50 per cent of Canadians have
suffered from a mental illness by age 40.


“Mental illness can happen to anyone,” Sawatzky said.


Everybody is vulnerable to mental health issues and it is important to understand that they can
affect anyone – even you.


“I think it is important to recognize that sometimes, despite all our best efforts, a mental health
problem or mental illness will emerge,” she said.


2. Talk It Out


A good way to cope with mental illness is to talk about it with others.


“I know it can be really hard to do sometimes, but please reach out to people when you need
help,” Cahatol said. “It doesn’t matter how big or small you think your problems are.”


Mental health professionals can also help people cope with mental illness.


“Seeing a counsellor can be helpful,” Sawatzky said. “A counsellor can usually help [with]
getting a sense of what’s helpful with the way you’re thinking and what’s not helpful.”

Taking care of your body is important for maintaining good mental health. Make sure to eat healthy, sleep and exercise. / WILLIAM KLIPPENSTEIN

3. Back to Basics


A healthy mind can’t be maintained without a healthy body. An article by The Globe and Mail
titled “Reports of mental health issues rising among postsecondary students: study” noted that a
lack of self-care in students is correlated with an increase in mental health issues.


“Sleep well, eat healthy, take time to relax and unwind,” Cahatol said. “Your health is the most
important thing in the world.”


4. Use the College’s Resources


Red River College has several resources and events available to students.


“Paint nights where people can come together and express themselves or coming to see the
therapy dogs,” Sawatzky said. “Those are kind of feel-good, like build-up-your-positive-
resources kinds of events.”


Sawatzky added that there are talks where students can learn about anxiety and that counsellors
are always available.


Red River College also provides access to a mindfulness training program.


“You register and then you spend five minutes a day [watching] a little video lesson about
different topics related to mindfulness, mental health, taking care of your mental well-being,”
Sawatzky said.

Red River College offers resources and holds events for students and staff. Therapy dog sessions are one of them! / WILLIAM KLIPPENSTEIN