There isn't a more stressful time for students than exam season as they attempt to wrap up their semester on a high note. Unfortunately, many students who struggle with mental illness can find this time of year especially hard as they attempt to study while dealing with their own personal problems. Usually, campuses will offer spaces and resources where students can alleviate their worries but when it comes to the University of Guelph, students are saying the reality on their campus is otherwise.
The discussion surrounding the lack of mental health resources at the University of Guelph started a few days ago when a student currently studying at the university named Victoria Raymond started a Twitter thread. Claiming that the school has "the worst mental health support of all the universities in Ontario."
The student outlined that the school has dealt with four suicides in one year yet continue to market the school as a tight-knit community that cares about each other which she believes is untrue. One of the first issues Victoria explained through her experience at Guelph was that the school only has one psychiatrist. Meaning that struggling students are subjected to ridiculously long waiting lists that even apply to walk-in hours:
the waiting list is so long my friend literally thought they forgot about her and started getting worse because she felt like help was never going to come
the wait for counselling services can be hours long, and Student Accessibility Services is equally difficult to access. When i attempted to go to walk in hours monday to discuss issues with my disabilities, i was told my advisor was unavailable because she was PROCTORING exams
this is during the most stressful part of the semester, when students need access to services like this the most. though she was incredibly helpful once i was able to reach her, she was obviously extremely overwhelmed and it’s clear both services are SEVERELY understaffed.
It's worth noting that the University of Guelph is one of the only schools in Ontario that doesn't offer a Fall reading week. While one might whittle down a student's complaint on this to claiming "students just want time off to party," Victoria, as well as another student who joined in the thread, made a good point:
guelph only has ONE fulltime psychiatrist. the waiting list is over a yr and you must have a referral. i have a friend who put her referral in summer before 1st yr & could not start seeing her until 2nd yr, at one time she could not get her meds refilled because she had no access
to a knowledgeable doctor, as hers was located in kingston and she did not have a fall reading week to go home and see her. no one would re up them and thus she was forced to go with out them, resulting in a suicide attempt.
Let’s also talk about any student with ADHD has to GO HOME, miss class time to see a Doctor to get 30 days of medication that we’re forced to ration for a whole semester bcus we can’t afford to miss class that much, and if we ask for refills they treat us like dealers
If the University of Guelph did have a reading week during the Fall semester, that would allow students who need to get their prescriptions filled the time they need to go back home and meet with their doctor. The break in between the semester would also allow students time to catch up with their studies and take some time to breathe instead of going through 12 straight weeks of courses.
Unfortunately, the lack of a reading week isn't the only issue. According to Victoria, students on campus have even been turned away in crisis situations:
several students have gone to doctors at health services to report mental health issues and even attempted suicides and are told they are the wrong place, when they push they are simply given highly addictive anti-anxiety meds and a note and scorned for wasting doctors time.
time and time again students bring up issues they have w guelphs approach & are ignored. suicides are brushed away, reality hidden behind our “cheery” reputation, and admissions are increased all despite the school’s lack lack of physical, intellectual & mental health resources
Several other students chimed in on the thread with similar experiences showing this isn't an isolated incident:
It’s sad that students are now having to seek help from outside resources, when the school promises that it adheres to the needs of students. Students are paying $100+ to talk to someone because the uog waiting list is YEARS long! Students are suffering and they need to be heard!
my experience with how they deal with mental health has been absolutely shameful. they should actually be embaressed for what they call support systems and professional advice. i cant stand it.
It's clear that the University of Guelph has a serious issue with the way they are running their mental health resources on campus. Considering that the Twitter thread as of now has 211 retweets and 539 likes, it's fair to say a lot of people on campus feel the same way.
Considering that students began tagging the University of Guelph's Twitter account on the thread, one can only hope the school takes the criticism into account and makes some serious changes for next semester. Especially since students are now planning to make prospective students at the school aware of the issue if they don't make any changes soon:
last i’m going to speak on this for now, but i just want @uofg to know if they continue to ignore this issue my roommate and i will be writing an open letter about it, printing out hundreds of copies, and posting them all over campus before admission tours start. that is all.
*The opinions expressed in this article are those of the students mentioned and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author or Narcity Media.