Ask Angel – Dealing with Mental Health

I am struggling with a mental illness and I don’t know what I’m supposed to do about school and everything. It feels very overwhelming. Please Help! – Scared

Dear Scared, 

Thank you so much for reaching out to me. Our mental health is an important topic that should not be taken lightly. No matter how big or small the problem, mental health affects everyone, which is why it is important to know that you are not alone. Many people struggle with their mental health daily. It is especially challenging during times like these, where everything is uncertain. Adjusting to our new reality can be super overwhelming. Mental health has always been something that, along with people in my family, I have struggled with at times. It was a topic that was never really talked about in my family and was something that I tried to avoid, but the more I avoided it and pretended like everything was fine, the worse the situation got. Everyone has their own experience and journey with mental health, and I am still learning so much, but I want to share with you some things that I have learned about dealing with school stress,  as well as tips, coping mechanisms, and resources that will hopefully help you. 

School can often become super overwhelming. Balancing school, your family life, relationships, while trying to maintain happiness can be very challenging at times, especially this year as we are adjusting to the new school schedule. If you are feeling overwhelmed with academics, it is a good idea to keep an agenda or notebook to plan out your week. I find that visually seeing everything I have to do during the week helps me prioritize what needs to be done first. I know sometimes the stress can become too much, causing people to procrastinate, but planning out what you need to do can help motivate you to do it.

 It is also important to ask questions and for help. If you are feeling confused in class, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. There truly are no bad questions. It is also important to communicate with your teachers if you are feeling overwhelmed by assignments and tests. They will likely give you extensions or be able to work something out specifically tailored to your situation. Teachers want you to succeed and will do everything they can to help you. Finally, it is most important to know that one bad grade doesn’t determine how you are as a student or as a person. There will always be opportunities to improve. In the long run, your mental health and happiness are most important. 

Living with a mental illness is not easy, but can be managed by practicing coping mechanisms each day. Bottling up your feelings and trying to ignore them can negatively affect your daily life. There are several things you can do when dealing with stress. For example, I find journaling to be helpful. Writing down how you feel can sometimes be easier than saying it out loud. 

Another way to de-stress is through exercise. Exercise comes in all different forms. I love to go on walks by myself and listen to music but doing other types of exercise such as yoga, meditation, or even a workout can be helpful for some people. Another technique I like to use when I am feeling overwhelmed is called “The 5 Senses”. This technique takes you through the five senses to help calm and ground yourself. First, you take a deep breath to begin. Then you look around for five things you can see, four things you can feel, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and then one thing you can taste. If you can’t smell or taste anything, then think of your two favourite smells and favourite taste. 

With how isolating the state of the world might make us feel right now, it is important that as students, we all know that there is support, resources and community for all of us. There are a lot of resources available within our school and outside of school. Please don’t hesitate to contact any one of our guidance counsellors; they are not just available for educational support but also mental health support and support for life in general. You can also reach out to teachers and principals, as well as Mrs. Elliot, our school social worker. Trust me, they want to help you in any way they can. There are also many resources outside of schools, such as Etobicoke Children’s Centre and Kids Help Phone. I would also recommend following the Richview Mental Health Club on Instagram @richview.mentalhealth  as there are a lot of helpful tips and resources available on their page. They also post tons of information regarding mental health support at Richview. 

Mental health is an important topic that we need to become more open to talking about. I appreciate you reaching out to me. Hopefully, I was able to provide you with tips for managing school stress, safe coping mechanisms and resources that are available to you. If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to ask and remember that your mental health is a priority. You shouldn’t feel ashamed to ask for help. 

Signed,

Christina Franco