College can be an extremely stressful time and while everyone is worried about gaining the freshman fifteen (who wouldn’t be with those thick New Rez pizzas?), we often forget about our mental health. Luckily for McGill students, there are many different resources and opportunities to learn how to build and maintain a healthy mind. Although this article is geared specifically towards McGill students, some of these resources are also available to the general public so make sure you take a brief moment to look into them if you’re interested. This is also not a complete article of every mental health resource that McGill provides, but a brief highlight of what I’ve found to be convenient and useful.
- Counselling Services: This is probably the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions “mental health resources”. The McGill Counselling Centre has free certified counsellors every Monday-Friday during the school year for all students paying the current Student Services fee (which is included on most students’ tuition—check on Minerva to be sure). The Counselling Centre provides a safe, calm space for students to speak with a trained adult and discuss strategies to reach their mental health goals. However, it’s extremely busy if you’re trying to book your first appointment. Calling on the phone will probably land you an appointment at least one month away and drop-in hours are always full. This is an amazing resource, but it’s probably going to be a struggle getting your first appointment set up. I’d suggest arriving even before the 9:30 am drop-in to ensure a spot.
Psychiatric Services: This option is probably the best bet for those who have had a history with seeing a certified doctor about their mental health. To get an appointment, a doctor must fax a referral. Basically, you have to see someone else first before going to McGill to find a psychiatrist. It’s convenient if you’re already set with that stuff, but a hassle if not. If you do need someone to prescribe medications for any type of mental illness, make sure you check them out.
Wellness Workshops and Groups: Afraid of going solo? Join a group! There are so many people going through the same thing and are looking for support like you, so why not team up? Sign up for workshops throughout the school year on managing anxiety, how not to stress for exams, public speaking, etc. These workshops are super helpful for working on life skills and organizing your brain when it feels like all your thoughts are running around and getting tangled up. They also have specific group therapy sessions geared towards body image, sleep, trauma, grief, and a few others if you’re looking for something more specifically tailored to your needs.
Just need to rant about something or talk to someone? There are plenty of resources just for that. One of the most well-known is McGill Students’ Nightline. It’s free, confidential, and completely non-judgemental. Call 514-398-6246 from 6pm-3am any night. This is an incredible resource that students should take advantage of when they’re stressed, worried, angry, etc. It’s a great way to let off steam or to talk through any problems. Plus, it’s super easy because all you have to do is dial a number. If you’re anxious about talking on the phone, the same club also offers Chatline, which is an online messaging system. It works exactly the same way, but is only offered Thursday-Saturday. If you prefer talking face-to-face, there’s an option for you as well! Founded by McGill University students, Vent Over Tea is a service that provides active listeners, trained to guide the conversation in a meaningful and empathetic way. All you do is select a time and cafe on their website and a listener should reach you shortly after. Then, you meet up for an hour and just talk. It’s free, completely confidential, and you get to possibly find your new favorite coffee shop.
Therapist Assisted Online (TAO): This one is for those who can’t bring themselves to get out of bed—you have no excuse not to work on your mental health. TAO is described as “an interactive, dynamic, and easy-to-access online program…designed for addressing issues related to anxiety and depression, which are the problems most commonly faced by students at McGill” (McGill Counselling). TAO provides short videos and exercises to build and strength strategies to cope with frustrating feelings common in the McGill community. It can be accessed online with a tablet or laptop, or even on your phone—the TAO Mobile App is available on both Android and iOS.
There are so many more ways to address your mental health; these are just a few to help you along. College is definitely fun and can feel like the time of your life, but it’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed and stressed sometimes. Remember to cut yourself some slack and take care of yourself because mental health is just as important as physical health.