It shouldn’t be any secret that a great number of university and college students struggle with their mental health. In 2016, the Ontario Canada Reference Group, reported that 65 per cent of post-secondary students reported experiencing severe levels of anxiety. 40 per cent reported feeling so depressed it was difficult to function.

In general, there are a few things that are well-known to improve mood and lessen stress levels, such as exercising and eating healthy foods. However, this is not always achievable. Since mental wellness is linked with better performance and satisfaction in every aspect of our lives, some turn to “unconventional” methods to compact their various struggles.

In the absence of access to therapy, doctors, and/or medication, one may turn to one or more of these more non-traditional methods.

  1. Acupuncture – used to treat depression, instead of using traditional medications. A traditional Chinese practice, acupuncture targets various pressure points on the hands and feet to improve the production of the chemical qi, which is the circulating life force, based on many Chinese philosophies.

  2. Hypnosis – The aim is to help the patient achieve a better mood, and in some cases the hypnosis works better than cognitive behavioral therapy.

  3. Marijuana and/or alcohol use – These substances are well known and are often used as an escape and/or pain reliever. When I asked professionals about this issue, they were unable to comment. There is a stigma attached to using this method to treat or deal with mental illness and legally professionals cannot give any information for the simple fact that not enough formal research has been done here in Canada to conclude whether this is a successful method or not.  However, in other studies done by other parts of the world, it  has been proven by many sources to only enhance the symptoms of mental illness or stress-related mental turmoil,  not help them in the long run. Also, using recreational marijuana is not proven as helpful or harmful the same way prescribed and regulated marijuana could.

  4. Yoga and relaxation techniques – Mindfulness is a big aspect of traditional and more current practices of yoga. The act of mindfulness involves staying in the moment and being aware of your environment and physical and emotional feelings. Yoga also releases endorphins which is a proven mood-booster. (Mindfulness Everyday)

While it is important to do whatever one is able to in order to remain mentally well, there are tried and true methods to be successful on your journey to mental wellness. In fact, people who practice unconventional methods often pair these methods with more traditional and tried methods, such as psychotherapy or medication.

Therapy and prescribed medication are two of the most common ways to achieve mental wellness. Although it doesn’t work for everyone, it is relatively safe and researched as successful. However, two of these methods, acupuncture and hypnosis are legal and relatively safe, though maybe not as researched in terms of their success rates.

Generally, although there are steps to take to stay mentally well in university and in life, different methods work for different people and different situations. This is the main reason why so many different ways of coping are available to the general public, and why there is always more research being done.

Mental wellness should be on a student’s priority list in order to remain successful in university and in all other aspects of one’s life.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, there are many resources at Laurier Brantford available to all students.

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