Why you should see a counsellor (yes, you!)

Life as a university student can be difficult, even overwhelming at times. From deadlines to relationship issues, it can be a lot for anyone to handle on their own. You don’t have to be in the middle of a crisis or meltdown to benefit from seeing a counsellor to voice your frustrations, concerns or future plans.

Science shows that young adulthood is the best time to form good mental health habits, including talking about your emotions and stress. Research, including surveys conducted by the World Health Organization, shows that the majority of mental health issues manifest between the ages of 14 and 24. Talking to a therapist or counsellor is part of good mental health hygiene, and along with methods like mindfulness and meditation, it can help you manage any mental health issues you may be facing or gain some extra support in times of need. Besides, you won’t be alone: a 2017 Student Health 101 survey revealed that 35 per cent of students across Canada have previously attended counselling.

There are many reasons why you may want to talk to a counsellor. Research shows the most common reasons for seeking counselling are anxiety, depression, stress, relationship problems, family issues, suicidal thoughts, academic performance problems, sleep problems and loneliness. Counsellors can also help you find and connect with more specific resources that may be helpful to you, such as support groups or medical professionals.

So, what should you expect at a counselling session? At your first session, your counsellor will ask you how you’re feeling. You should feel free to answer openly and honestly because your counsellor is trained to be non-judgemental and prepared to listen to what you have to say. Like any relationship, working with a counsellor requires trust and openness.  They will also ask you why you sought therapy, your personal history and current situation, and any symptoms you are currently experiencing. Almost everything you discuss with your counsellor is confidential, so don’t worry about your parents “finding out” about what you talked about with your counsellor. Your counsellor will only share something with another practitioner with your written consent or if you are in immediate danger of hurting yourself or someone else. But remember, counselling isn’t something to be ashamed of, and it’s your right to disclose or not to disclose the fact that you’ve been in counselling to your friends or family.

At Mount Allison, there are several counsellors who you can book an appointment with or talk to during drop-in hours Monday and Tuesday from 1 to 4 p.m. and Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. You can also chat with the mental health educator, who can help you learn to be more mindful and even work with you to create a personalized wellness plan.

If you have any questions, would like to learn more or want to let me know what you want to see discussed in this column next week, feel free to email me at healthintern@mta.ca. You can also email wellness@mta.ca to book any appointments at the Wellness Centre or counsellor@mta.ca to book an appointment with a counsellor. Be sure to download the Campus WELL app for more interesting articles and the chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card! As always, stay happy and healthy!

Rachel McDougall
Rachel McDougall is a contributor to the Argosy.