Mental health is a serious issue that affects the well-being of countless students. More than half of our respondents reported that they have struggled with mental health during undergrad. Oftentimes, university can be the cause of stress, anxiety or other forms of mental health problems. Thus, it is crucial to take care of yourself as well as support one another during tough times.
Burnouts are extremely common in our respondents, with the vast majority of people reporting that they have experienced it at some point. The constant demand for work is likely to leave students feeling overwhelmed or emotionally drained. Just keep in mind that it is completely normal to feel this way and remember to let yourself take breaks.
Most of our respondents indicated that they are more likely to experience a burnout during their academic terms. This could be due to heavy course work and assessments, as well as interview preparation and co-op search. Co-op terms may be preferred because it gives students a break from studying.
It seems like both online and in-person terms can cause burnout. It looks like for many respondents, being forced to learn online due to COVID-19 has helped a bit with burnout.
The words therapy and counselling are often used interchangeably, but therapy is generally more long-term and focuses on you as an individual. Meanwhile, counselling is usually for a specific issue for a limited amount of time. Although some respondents have sought out therapy, this number is less than half of the number of respondents who reported struggling with mental health. This could speak to the need to have more accessible and available resources in regards to therapy around UW. In the meantime, if you’re struggling with mental health, don’t hesitate to reach out to professionals.
Around half of those who responded to this question reported that they have considered therapy. Again, this is almost double the number of respondents who have actually been to therapy.
Seeking professional help can dramatically improve one's well-being. However, many avoidance factors prevent people from doing so. According to our respondents, some of the most common barriers for them include the lack of information, money, stereotypes, and the lack of time.
Out of the 101 respondents who answered this question, 24 said yes to having gone to counselling before. This number is very similar to the number of people who have been to therapy.
Not many of our respondents have considered going to counselling. This is significantly less than the number of people who have considered going to therapy. UW Health Services offers great counselling services and resources for all students, you can check them out here.
The factors that inhibit people from going to counselling are similar to those that limit people from trying out therapy.
UW Health Services is a program that provides accessible medical services. It’s great to see a chunk of our respondents were able to utilize it for their benefit and we hope that these services continue to be used even more in the future. University life is stressful, and turning to UW Health Services is something you would not be alone in doing. To book an appointment with them, you can call (519) 888-4096 or email email@example.com if you are unable to book by phone.
Our respondents have a wide range of opinions and feedback about their experiences with UW Health Services. Here is some of the feedback that was provided.
Depends on the person you get, some are really good but some I didn't click with
Good, although I never attended a session
It was average. The people there are kind and care about you.
Pretty good minus how busy they are
They tried their best, but I felt underwhelmed and it felt like I was wasting my time there.
It is not as accessible as you would hope, and it is hard to continue to see your doctor
not half bad.
It was just alright.
Overall, the majority of respondents rated their mental health over their undergrad career as a 3 or 4 out of 5.
Similar to the question above, most students rated their current mental health as a 3 or 4 out of 5. However, more people indicated a mental health score of 4 or 55, showing a slight increase in general mental health status after graduation.
Thankfully, most people do highly value their mental health. As shown by the stats, most people gave a score on the higher end.
Co-op and the pandemic can separate friends you make at UW. However, here are some ways that our respondents kept in touch with their friends.
Played games, video called, voice called.
Playing video games over Discord, meeting up in person and going on walks or picnics
Scheduled game nights with a large group of friends (to play mafia/among us) + did secret santa food edition
With mental health being such a large concern in university, many of our respondents have commented on this topic. Here are some quotes from students that describe how UW’s environment affects students’ mental health as well as suggestions for improving mental health.
If you ever feel your mental health is declining, don't be afraid to talk to your profs and TA's about it, they're all there to help you. Don't isolate yourself from your friend group, as that'll only make things worse. The most important thing is to not keep everything bottled up.
Mental health at Waterloo is pretty bad. The environment generates a lot of pressure and people crack very much under that pressure.
Everyone deals with mental health. You aren't some special snowflake, and you also aren't immune. It will always get better once you accept that and are able to talk about it at least to yourself.
I wish some of the people here remembered that at the end of the day, life moves on, and are things that make life worth living besides the prestige and money that comes with being sexy
Don't be afraid to reach out for help, therapy is worth it!
Competition at Waterloo can be tough on mental health sometimes.
It is pretty scary that you could just be totally unknown in university, nobody would never know anything that happens to you. I feel that a lot of people with mental health problems can go down like this.
Consider reaching out to professionals if you are struggling with mental health. However, it is completely normal to try multiple therapists until you can find the one that really vibes with you.
UW has terrible support nets for students who are struggling. This is the biggest differentiator between UW and say a liberator arts college. Recognizing that you are on your own is an important step to taking control of your own mental health.
I think the support systems for mental health in university are definitely less structured, and it's easier to 'fall through the cracks', especially being away from long-time friends and family from your hometown.
The school does not seem to care at all
I hope we can work on mental health in general, not just for disorders but also just a general wellbeing
Mental health at the University of Waterloo in particular is very challenging to navigate. We all hear a lot about the toxic environment and the 'cali or bust' mentality and all this and all that all the time, and for good reason I think it's very tough for an 18 year old growing up with traditional Canadian values dumped into a prestigious tech school to avoid falling into these thought traps and seemingly zero sum games. I think we should all step back and take some time to reflect on how different our university experiences here at the University of Waterloo are compared to those of other schools, just to give us some perspective on things.
Mental health at Waterloo has never been really great. Back in first year, there were a bunch of people that committed suicide and since then, the pandemic has happened. Arguably, that's made it worse (being in quarantine the whole two years). Hopefully it gets better in future years, but Waterloo's mental health generally stems from the highly competitive environment that the students curate themselves. It's a vicious cycle.
I find my mental health is the worst when I'm under a lot of stress and spread myself too thin. During the pandemic, I find myself too focused on school work which made the stress worse.
Uw provides good resources if you seek them out/really need them. Otherwise, just git gud.
I used to think I was sad in high school, I was stressed in high school, but never have I felt such intense versions of sadness and stress as I have during my undergrad. With that being said, I will never feel as proud and accomplished as I did when I got my first “big coop” or when I pulled off a near perfect in a CS course!
You have to look out for yourself, your parents are there with you
Having somewhere to vent or someone to listen and bounce thoughts off is really helpful for mental health. You're definitely not alone in experiencing what you're experiencing. It helps to put thoughts into words (by talking/writing/typing it out).
You're probably going to struggle a lot at some points and that's ok if you know how to deal with it
Will likely deteriorate, especially if you struggle with maintaining friendships.
1. Maintaining mental health and believing in yourself are essential conditions for developing your intellectual potential. 2. Pay attention to exploration and innovation in study. 3. Scientific use and rational development of the brain. 4. Focus on self-encouragement and reflection, and constantly awaken self-realization and self-transcendence. 5. Make good use of sound and beauty activities to develop innovative potential.
I think the competitive nature of CS forces a lot of student to value coops and school over their mental health. Its hard to not as we came to this program to be the best and its hard to not compare your self to everyone else.
school gives me anxiety but if i care less then it's okay, it's mostly just me placing dumb expectations on myself
overthinking is bad
No one can truly understand or appreciate your suffering. Your challenge is unique to yourself, but you still likely need some other input (doctor, friend, counsellor etc.) to overcome it.
I didn't feel supported in courses it felt like everything was a competition.
Being consistently overwhelmed can lead to mental health problems. That's why it's so important to take breaks. It's also crucial to stay organized (easier said than done). But the way I stay accountable and on top of things is a simple schedule. I put every due date in my calendar on the first day of class and set up a grade calculator. And that's all I do on the first day of class. From then on, I make a table labelled Monday through Friday, and put every task to start/continue/finish underneath. This is where the calendar comes in, which will help you prioritize the tasks. On top of that, I couldn't survive a term without study buddies. My keys to success have literally been keep a calendar of due dates, schedule your week, and find people who can help you when you just don't think you can do it.
I really dont know, high school courses were all easy for me but university courses tend to be a lot harder. But i am already in this program so what can i say. I already switched my program once, so i am already behind, if i switch back i will be even more behind and i dont have enough money to delay my gradutaion even more. So what else can i do besides bare with it.
I have developed a deep hatred for UW faculty. Avoiding thinking about my time in university is the best thing i can do for my mental health.
Figure out a sleep schedule that works and prioritize it.
Please, please take care of your mental health.
Multiple co-op sequences causes people to feel lonely and depressed
I think I have ADHD or a learning disability but I never knew what I should do about that, if anything (since I was still passing... mostly)
A lot of sudden change going into university, everyone is struggling
People need to go outside more
Most of our respondents indicated that they did not feel like they received enough support for their mental health. It’s important to remember that there are people and services out there looking to help you. UW is a very stressful environment, so don’t be afraid to turn to loved ones or professionals for help.
Talk to friends
Physical activity, playing guitar/singing, talking with friends, moving to a new city for a fresh start
I study therapy and counseling theory
Go on walks, music
Go on long walks
Talk to close friends
I write to myself, go outside, listen to music, watch films about parts of the world I want to visit, do photography
Breathing exercises, healthy living, relaxation activities like reading and meditation
I vent to friends and meditate
Hang out with friends, reading a good book
Coffee, League of Legends
Write diaries and seeking professional help
physical exercise, video games, cooking, spending time with significant other
sleep, cry, eat, alcohol
Have a good night sleep
drink, sleep, academics, walk, music
Therapy, spend time alone, find outlets for self-expression, avoid social media, try and eat healthy, exercise, self-reflection/values reevaluation, meditate, incorporate flow
Self harm, talking to friends, drinking
Friends, self reflection, food
Tiktok and talk to friends
Distract myself with something I enjoy doing, try to be productive in a different way
I talk to and spend time with my friends, and allow myself to wallow and take days off when needed.
Step away from work, cry if needed
Make sure I have enough time to feel relaxed and do things I enjoy
Talking to friends
Talking with others
Chatting with friends, playing an instrument, talking out loud to myself
Try my best. If it doesn't work out "C'est la vie" and get high
Journaling, watching shows, playing video games, hanging out with friends
Feel it out
Develop innovation potential.
Look at the bigger picture
Go for walks, reach out to friends, pick up hobbies to keep busy
Meet friends, keep myself distracted
Go on Walk, Hang out with friends, talk to girl friend.
take a nap
Indulge in my hobbies
Never focusing too much time or energy on one aspect of life/identity. Sunshine and exercise are underrated.
Just think at least i passed and i am still alive, and being alive is good, aftet COVID, nothing else is important besides staying alive.
Talk to partner
Talk to my friends
Bike, pray, walk, call a friend
Taking a break, sleeping, going out, having fun.
Cry and distract myself with work, go see friends
Go for walks by laurel creek
Over the years, I've learned to prioritize my physical health (sleep, diet, exercise) and I have found it extremely beneficially to my mental health as well. Sleeping 8 hours a night, eating 3 meals a day, and getting some fresh air will do wonders.
Meditate and exercise
Play games with friends
It stresses out the people you love the most. It also makes it 10 times harder to get things done and to push yourself when you're already so strained.
Mental health affects every aspect of your life. If you aren't in a good place mentally, everything you do will take a hit. Your relationships will be strained, studying will become harder, and you'll burn out much faster. Always take care of yourself first.
I make sure I am ok before I focus on any of those things.
It affects my ability to communicate with a clear head and also my productivity during work
Affects friendships the most. If I'm not in a good state of mind, I can't even talk to my friends properly or given them the attention they deserve.
My stress and anxiety make it harder to put effort into the things I do, even if I like doing them. Tends to make my work worse and makes me a worse boyfriend.
It introduces a lot of unnecessary stress that interferes with everything
My productivity and motivation decreases when I am stressed or burnt out. I also don't socialize as much when I am stressed.
Quite a lot
makes everything else alot more difficult
affects my motivation to maintain relationships and be focused on career
Honestly I don't really know.
Affects my growth in all areas and how I deal with problems
I personally feel like my mental health affects everything. The only way I can describe the affect is that positive mental health leads to positive effects in these areas.
Depression affects the motivation to do anything. Sometimes you just lay in bed and can't get out to face the day. Multiple days waste away and you just can't function properly. Lots of friends have trouble helping me and from my social anxiety, I miss out on a ton of social events.
It can hinder some parts
It forces me to prioritize and stay on top of my work, because I have to account for the sporadic and spontaneous bad days that prevent me from getting things done. It’s also made my hyper aware of being a burden on my friends, and occasionally made me less productive on work terms than I should have been.
Its necessary to be successful/have fun when pursuing relationships, doing work/studying
It affects my relationship with my parents the most, because they are the most invested in me. It is hard to make them understand how I feel. My relationship with my boyfriend is generally great, because I feel I can share whatever I like with him. Similarly with friends, mental health does not affect my relationships with them, because we have 0 expectations from each other but are always supportive of each other. My academics have definitely suffered, but speak to your profs, they are amazing and very understanding! You will be surprised at the accommodations they can offer.
Negatively affects relationships
It's easier to study when your mental is good
It definitely affects my mood, which unconsciously affects how I go about the various aspects of my life.
Bad mental health affects all of them negatively.
Anxious about risks and failure
It just takes time out of my day, even though there are sometimes that I'd want to be more productive/meet new people anxiety or other issues make that difficult sometimes
Makes me less motivated in all aspects of life
Motivation loss in everything
makes it harder to maintain consistent output/effort
I am too tired to do anything just want to lay in the bed for the whole day.
Makes me less interested in pursuing relationships with others. I cut myself off from people.
Not much at all anymore
Definitely makes studying/work much harder if I'm not feeling great.
Friendships feel painful sometimes due to anxiety
Stress of school and time taken by procrastination leaves little time for enjoying life
Most students feel “senioritis” at the time of this survey. This makes sense, as they’re so close to being free.
Help people be more aware, provide more resources and accomodation.
Promote better school involvement and school spirit! Also offer and push counselling/therapy services more.
communicate what situations warrant a trip to see a professional
More accessible mental health services, wait times are too long
Better and standardized accommodations for students going through mental health difficulties during the term. Some instructors are just so insensitive. UW's accessibility services are pretty good in my experience, and should be better publicized as a resource for everyone.
Definitely, for me it's that I don't really feel a sense of belonging in the school community. Waterloo never really felt like home, it was just somewhere I stayed for a few months at a time.
Promote more dialogue on mental health in general.
Hire better mental health professionals
There are many things that can be done but all of which are too expensive to actually implement for UW.
Not throwing me false Policy 71 accusations, then having me fight it for a whole month.
Maybe a webpage for easy to understand instructions on how to get resources
more accessible counselling
Normalize reduce course loads
Not sure UW can do anything to help. Maybe more awareness and attempts at supporting us throughout the terms.
never go fully remote ever again :)
Have more visibility on mental health services + improve wait times
Maybe not make such terrible CS Finals geez.
Stimulate learning motivation, motivation is to promote people to engage in something idea or desire, is directly to promote a person to carry out activities of the internal power. Learning motivation is an internal psychological process or internal psychological state that stimulates individual learning activities, maintains the learning activities that have been caused, and makes behavior toward a certain learning goal.
I think they need to be more lenient with failed/dropped courses, the student here value their program a lot and the fear of failing out is one of the main drivers of mental health struggles (IMO), so giving the students who are struggling academic flexibility will help imo.
hire more counsellors
I would say make the finals easier but that's not going to happen so i think there's nothing you can do.
Ask professors to pretend to care about students success
Better promotion of available services, more availability.
Be more accommodating of student stress
Support study group opportunities for students without friends to even the playing field first year calculus was very stressful :(