Depression, anxiety top two issues for OC students

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Students' association has strategies to help students battling those problems

Depression and anxiety are the top two mental health issues at Olds College, according to campus surveys.

That’s what a nurse and health and safety consultant at the college says.

“Lots of students are experiencing some form of it, whether it’s clinically diagnosed or not,” Fritz Latimer said during an interview March 9.

Some others include managing relationships and substance addictions, she added.

The students’ association hosts many events to get students out of their rooms and interacting with other people. Some include art nights, smoothie days and healthy eating days.

“Our students’ association and the college both work together at coming up with fun programming activities to engage students so that they’re not always feeling like they’re isolated or have to go drink to have fun,” Latimer said.

Preventing isolation makes students more likely to seek counselling if they need it, she added.

Six-time Olympic medallist Clara Hughes spoke March 9 at the Ralph Klein Centre.

Hughes, who has struggled with mental health issues like depression and addiction said physical fitness contributes to mental wellness in her day-to-day life.

“For me, I always like to say that movement is medicine. Normally, every day I get out and I move. I go for walks, I go for a jog, bike ride, whatever it is. It really sets the tone for my day or ends the day on a good note. It allows for clarity of thought and also just allows for good chemical flow.”

As well, when discussing mental health, there’s the concept of the “gatekeepers” of a community, those who come into contact with many different people and can be trained to recognize the signs of mental illness and help them get help. Gatekeepers can be anybody from resident assistants (RAs) on campus to barbers to religious leaders.

Hughes said coaches, administrators and teachers were her gatekeepers.

“But I remember specifically one of my coaches, when I was a young athlete and really struggling, he knew what I had gone through and he placed more importance on my psychological well-being than any result. And (he) really was the first to tell me, ‘I don’t care how you perform. I care about you.'”

jho@olds.greatwest.ca

“Lots of students are experiencing some form of it, whether it’s clinically diagnosed or not.” FRITZ LATIMER NURSE AND HEALTH AND SAFETY CONSULTANT OLDS COLLEGE

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