Struggles during stressful times

Why is it so difficult to stay on top of your grades and your mental health?

Mount Allison is consistently ranked as the top university for undergraduate studies and students come here from all over the world. At any university, however, students’ success can be challenging as assignments, tests and due dates pile up in the blink of an eye. Midterms, especially, are a time when many students struggle to stay on top of their mental health.

Students come face-to-face with Stress and anxiety during midterm season. Madeleine Hansen/Argosy

Jessica Griffin is Mt. A’s mental health and harm reduction educator. Part of her role is to promote mental health and wellness across campus, and she works with many student-led groups to offer support such as resources they can access and direction for initiatives.

“University, especially for first-year students, is a new experience,” Griffin said. “It’s the big midterms at the university level so it’s anticipating what that’s going to look like and what that is going to feel like.”

Since everyone on campus is writing midterms at the same time, it becomes a conversation that is hard to escape. “In a university setting, that midterm stress and anxiety becomes kind of contagious,” Griffin said. “It becomes the talk of campus around midterms.”

Feelings of nervousness and stress are normal around midterms, but sometimes can be something more. Students who may be struggling with anxiety, depression or panic attacks are encouraged to reach out to the Wellness Centre. There are two counsellors on campus who offer counselling services and support. Griffin said these counsellors could be someone you check in with when you’re uncertain if your feelings are normal, or someone to teach you new coping strategies and stress management techniques.

“In high school, they don’t tell you how much each thing you do is worth [toward your final grade]. Knowing that if you do not perform well you are losing out on precious marks towards your final grade worries many students,” said Will Lint, a first-year economics student. “[In] high school you can slack off a little bit and still do fine, but in university if you start slacking off your marks are just going to start plummeting, and you are paying a lot of money to be here. So, it’s really stressful.”

Time management is crucial to doing well during midterm season. Students must decide how much time to spend studying each subject and how to study effectively.

Madeleine Robitaille is an academic mentor in Campbell Hall and a second-year student. An academic mentor is a student in residence whose role is to support students in their academic success. Robitaille recommends starting to study in advance to allow for smaller portions at a time. “Break things into small pieces. So, if your first day of studying is just going through your notes and finding what you don’t understand, then you know what you don’t understand and that is a place to start,” she said.

Maintaining a balance between academics and other aspects of your life may seem difficult at times, but Robitaille says it’s not impossible. “Acknowledge the fact that you are not the marks that you get,” she said. “If you get a bad mark it doesn’t mean you’re a failure at everything. It means you got a bad mark. You had a bad day.”

If you who have questions about or are struggling with your mental health, you can reach out to the Wellness Centre at wellness@mta.ca or 506-364-2163 for more information.

Emma MacMillan
Emma MacMillan is a second-year student from Moncton, New Brunswick. She is studying psychology with a minor in French. She does synchronized figure skating and plays field hockey. Emma also enjoys hiking and spending time with her puppy.