September 30, 2020

By NATHAN BROWN

Every first-year student experiences the same thing, stress, but what resources are there that students can utilize to make their school year easier?

Conestoga College’s Counselling Services offers a wide variety of programs and services to students, ranging from counselling sessions for stress, to helping them cope with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

“Stress is a thing that everyone is affected by,” said Marshal Chanda, a counsellor at Conestoga. “There’s a wide range of things that we deal with.”

Chanda said the vast majority of students coming into the counselling services are trying to deal with stress.

Students at the college are shown a video on their first day of orientation, describing what Counselling Services is all about, and how staff support students.

Some students hear about the department in other ways.

“I heard about the services from someone who works for the school’s campus security,” said Devin Mueller, a first-year nursing student.

In addition to stress, the Counselling Services video tells students help is available for those struggling to adjust to college, home sickness or being in a post-secondary environment.

“I used the school’s counselling services first semester last year,” said Meghan Thain, a second-year biotechnology technician student. “It helped me deal with the stress at the beginning of the year.”

Counsellors at the Doon, Waterloo, Guelph and Cambridge campuses help students cope and deal with any problems, such as relationship issues, financial pressures and personal concerns.

“If there’s ever a case outside of our realm that we don’t have expertise in, we link up with someone in the community, so the students aren’t left empty-handed,” Chanda said.

KW Counselling and Mosaic Counselling are two outside resources that counsellors would typically refer students to. These local agencies provide counselling support to anyone in the area, with bookings or walk-in services.

“Mental health is becoming a bigger issue nowadays,” Chanda said. “We get more and more students in each year.”

The department provided tips for students on how to de-stress this school year. They are:

1. Sleep. It’s important for students to maintain a regular sleeping pattern and get a good night’s rest. If you are well rested, you are able to tackle the day’s stress more easily.

2. Physical activities can help you relieve tension, thus alleviating stress.

3. Good nutrition is also important. Having the right food in your body can help give it the boost it needs throughout the day.

4. Leisure. Students should find time throughout their busy schedule to have a chance to sit and relax and breathe.

Counselling Services also hosts a variety of workshops, groups and events throughout the year for students, such as the Performance Anxiety Group, to help students overcome their fears of presentations and to help “change self-defeating thoughts.”

Students can learn more by visiting their counselling office or by going online to www.conestogac.on.ca.

If students need immediate help they can call Good2Talk at 1-866-925-5454, a 24-hour phone service for post-secondary students.

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