Former health minister speaks out about student mental health

Story retrieved from – SEPTEMBER 24, 2015

Former national health minister Allan Rock is speaking out about the importance of assisting with mental health issues.

Rock discussed his lived experiences with mental health while he was a student at the University of Ottawa in an op-ed piece published Thursday.

Rock, now the university’s president and vice-chancellor, coped with mental health issues internally for weeks while attending his first year of post-secondary school in Ottawa. He only felt better after getting professional help.

“Mr. Rock’s courage to share his lived experiences with mental health issues can serve as a source of inspiration for others,” CMHA Ontario CEO Camille Quenneville said. “Anyone can be affected by mental health issues, but no one has to suffer in silence.”

That Rock struggled during his post-secondary school years is not uncommon.

About 70 percent of mental health challenges have their onset between the ages of 18 and 25, a 2013 Statistics Canada survey found.

Maclean’s magazine reported in 2012 that a quarter of university-age Ontario students will experience a mental health problem, most often stress, anxiety or depression.

And according to the National College Health Assessment 2013 survey of students on Canadian campuses, about 60 percent reported that, within the past 12 months, they were “so depressed that it was difficult to function.”

Almost three quarters felt “overwhelming anxiety.”

“As Mr. Rock indicated, early adult years present a whole new set of life challenges that can be overwhelming,” Quenneville said. “It’s important to understand there are plenty of people willing and able to help with any mental health hurdle.”

To read Rock’s full account, please visit the Globe and Mail website.

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