5 tips to support your mental health as you head back to school

A graphic that features a photo of Catharine Munn and a photo of McMaster's University Hall, as well as text that reads, 'Bakc-to-school mental health tips'

University is more than just academics.

It’s also an exciting and challenging time of personal development and transition. Students are figuring out: Who am I? Who do I want to be? What do I like to do? Where do I want to go in my life?

As you head back to school, here are five tips to help support your mental health.

1. There’s no “right way” to be a student
Don’t add unnecessary stress by thinking there is just “one way” or a “right way” to start and finish university. Your degree doesn’t have to be completed in four years or full-time. Allow yourself to take risks, make mistakes and do what works best for you.

2. Develop healthy habits and routines
Put yourself in the right mindset to learn by prioritizing your health and well-being. Monitor your habits and routines and ask yourself, “Are they serving me well?” Think about which habits you want to continue and which ones you want to start or stop.

3. Seek self-validation
Your grades and achievements don’t define your worth, nor do the opinions of others. Think about who you want to be and what you want to achieve and accomplish as a student and person. Focus on becoming a better version of yourself and actively avoid comparing yourself to others.

4. Make connections
Our best safety nets are social—we must be kind, support one another, and look out for each other. University is a great time to meet new people and form genuine connections. Keep looking for your people and eventually, you will find them.

5. Reach out for support
Help comes in many different forms. If you’re struggling, and we all do at times, it’s essential to share your feelings and confide in someone in order to move forward. This can be a friend, family member or a mental health professional.

The Student Wellness Centre offers medical care and personal counselling to McMaster University students.

ConnexOntario is an information and referral service, focusing on mental health, addiction and problem gambling services in Ontario.  Available 24/7 via phone, webchat and email. 1-866-531-2600

Find mental health resources at McMaster and beyond: https://mentalhealth.mcmaster.ca

Catharine Munn, MD, is a psychiatrist as well as the advisor to the Provost and Vice-President (Academic) on mental health at McMaster University, lead at the McMaster Okanagan Office of Health & Well-being Mental Health Division, assistant dean of Resident Affairs in Postgraduate Medical Education (PGME), lead of the Professor Hippo-on-Campus Student Mental Health Education Program and an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences.


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