As a student, you are likely dealing with many different personal challenges and stressful situations in addition to your school work. You are not alone. Learn about some common mental health challenges, resources offered by Columbia College and the local community, helpful online tools, and more.
Columbia College Counsellors
Columbia College counsellors are available to provide help and guidance for a wide range of life challenges and mental health concerns. Counsellors can assist with issues related to anxiety, depression, stress, relationships, grief, addiction, adjustment to life in Canada, as well as academic and career planning matters. If you are experiencing a crisis, Columbia College counsellors can assist and refer you to the appropriate community agency. Counsellors are available in Student Services (Room 211) in the Main Campus, 9am-5pm Monday to Friday, and 9:30am-5pm on Saturday.
We understand that what you share with counsellors is private information, so this material is held in the strictest confidence. The counsellor you speak with may consult with other Columbia College counsellors for supervision purposes. Counsellors are also required by law to report when individuals may be an imminent danger to themselves or others; current instances of child abuse are evident; and when required to do so if files are subpoenaed.
Look for mental health events organized by Columbia College’s Student Services department every semester! Mental Health and Wellness Week is a week-long event series that occurs every semester and highlights important health themes such as anti-bullying, suicide prevention, self care, nutrition, stress management, and more. Participating in these events gives you the opportunity to learn more about important mental and physical health issues, access helpful information and resources, explore health concepts in fun new ways, and maybe even win a prize or choose a delicious free snack!
Depression is a challenging and serious mental illness that negatively impacts mood. Without treatment, it can affect the way you feel, think and act for a long time. Signs of depression can include feeling sad, irritable, hopeless, worthless, anxious, guilty and uninterested in things that you used to enjoy. You may withdraw from loved ones and notice changes in your weight, appetite, sleep, and activity levels. You might feel low in energy, have difficulty concentrating, and even have thoughts of suicide. People can experience depression in different ways. However, the positive news is that depression is treatable. For help or further information, speak to a Columbia College counsellor or nurse, and/or a health professional in the community (family doctor, etc.). Learn more about depression from the Canadian Mental Health Association.
There are different types of anxiety disorders including generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorders, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and several others. Everyone feels stressed or worried at some times during their lives, and a certain level of anxiety can even be useful when it motivates you to complete tasks or lets you know something is wrong. However, anxiety disorder is when anxiety is no longer helpful and it negatively impacts various areas of your life. Treatments are available for each kind of anxiety disorder.
Speak to a Columbia College counsellor or nurse, and/or a health professional in the community (family doctor, etc.) for help or more information. Learn more about anxiety from AnxietyBC.
Drugs and Alcohol
People use substances such as alcohol and drugs for a variety of different reasons. Substance use can become a problem if you are using it to cope with things like stress, anxiety or depression instead of dealing with the root issues. Substance use can also cause you to take higher risks, lead to emotional issues, and make problems (including other mental health challenges) worse. Substance use is problematic when it has negative consequences on your life, begins to affect your health, and you experience physical and/or psychological addiction (tolerance and dependence on the substance).
Speak to a Columbia College counsellor or nurse, and/or a health professional in the community (family doctor, etc.) for help or more information. Learn more about substance use from Foundry.
Addictions Support: BC211 is a Vancouver-based non-profit organization that specializes in providing information and referral regarding community, government, and social services in British Columbia. BC211 helpline services include the Alcohol and Drug Information and Referral Service (ADIRS). Contact ADIRS toll-free at 1-800 663-1441, or in the lower mainland at 604-660-9382.
Suicide is when someone intentionally ends their own life. Sometimes a person is in so much pain that they see suicide as the only option. However, those who die by suicide may not always really want to end their life, but just want the overwhelming pain and difficult thoughts, feelings and situations they are experiencing to stop. There are several risk factors and warning signs for suicide which you can learn more about from the Canadian Mental Health Association.
The risk of suicide can be reduced by seeking treatment for mental health concerns, building social support networks, and learning good coping skills. If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide speak to a Columbia College counsellor or nurse, and/or a health professional in the community (family doctor, etc.) as soon as possible for help or more information. You may also find it helpful to contact a crisis telephone support line like the Crisis Centre. The Crisis Centre is available to listen and help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433). If you are in crisis, call 911 or go to your local emergency room immediately.
The three main kinds of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder. Eating disorders are not just about food, but are also about body image, and a person’s sense of control, identity, self-worth and self-esteem. Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that also impact physical and emotional health.
You can learn more about eating disorders from the Canadian Mental Health Association. The Looking Glass Foundation provides community support for those in recovery from eating disorders. For help or further information, speak to a Columbia College counsellor or nurse, and/or a health professional in the community (family doctor, etc.).
Grief, or the experience of loss, is one of the most stressful experiences you can go through. People usually grieve when they lose someone they love, but you might also grieve the loss of a pet, relationship, or job. Everyone experiences grief differently but you may feel shocked, angry, sad, scared, anxious, relieved, or peaceful. Grief is a process that takes time to go through. It can help if you have some way to express your grief and supportive people to turn to. It is important to give yourself time to feel what you need to feel, reach out for help if necessary, and take care of yourself. For help or further information, speak to a Columbia College counsellor or nurse, and/or a health professional in the community (family doctor, etc.) Learn more about grief, and/or contact the BC Bereavement Helpline for further assistance.
Tools and Resources
These community agencies and organizations offer specialized mental health services in a variety of important areas. Explore their websites to learn more about what they offer.
This online resource provides self-help information on anxiety disorders, stress, depression, panic attacks, and more. It also has information on community programs and workshops in British Columbia, a video library, an audio section, access to the MindShift app, and a dedicated section for youth.
The Crisis Centre provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, seven days a week through phone lines and online chats. The Crisis Centre also provides workshops about mental and emotional wellness, and information on suicide prevention on their website.
QMunity aims to respond to the needs of British Columbia’s queer, trans and Two-Spirit communities. The organization provides free counselling, support groups, information and referrals, and youth one-on-one peer support.
This is a community of prevention and support for those suffering from anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders. They provide residential care, a summer camp, online and in person support, and scholarships.
WAVAW works to end all forms of violence against women. They provide services including a free 24 hour crisis line, 24 hour hospital accompaniment, a counselling program, support groups, victim services, educational outreach, and more.
CMHA gives access to accurate information on a variety of mental health disorders, mental health quizzes, and more.
If you are interested in finding a registered counsellor in the community, this directory can lead you in the right direction. Search by geographic area, type of issue you are experiencing, language, and more. View profiles of counsellors across British Columbia to find the right fit for you.
This website offers resources designed to help youth be aware of thoughts, feelings, behaviours, and physical symptoms that may indicate possible mental health challenges. It also offers skills and strategies to help manage these problems (including depression, anxiety, stress, alcohol/substance use, psychosis, body image, eating, etc.).
Apps and Tools:
Here are some of our favourite apps that can help you confront mental health challenges, such as reducing anxiety, tracking mood and practicing mindfulness to increase your overall health and wellbeing.
The free MindShift app is designed to help you deal with anxiety and stop it from controlling your life. It can help you cope by providing a variety of everyday strategies and specific tools so you can take charge of your anxiety and your life.
Use this free app as your own mental health companion. You can take a mental health assessment, post private or public messages about your journey, and track your mood, sleep, exercise, and other measures.
Mindfulness encourages awareness of oneself in the present moment without judgment. It helps you refocus on the present and calm your mind, and has many benefits for overall health and wellbeing. This app helps users try out a variety of mindfulness practices.