Back to Skule™: Mental wellness strategies for students

Story by Tyler Irving, U of T Engineering News

This year, U of T Engineering students are preparing for a very different back-to-school season. Keeping mental health in mind will be more important than ever.

Below, U of T Engineering’s Mental Health Programs Officer Melissa Fernandes lays out some advice on how students can effectively deal with some of the new challenges they may be facing.

Challenge #1 — A sedentary, screen-filled day

While faculty and staff have been working to ensure that your learning can happen asynchronously where possible to accommodate your daily schedules, it is likely that you will be spending a significant portion of your day on a screen.

This is unavoidable, so be sure to take care of your body by taking breaks. Get up, move and look beyond your screen. Make sure that you get in all the things your body needs:

  • Seven to nine hours of sleep
  • Nutritious meals and snacks
  • Lots of water (and yes, I will say it, using the toilet as needed!)

Remember, mental and physical health are fundamentally linked. What’s good for the body is good for the brain!

Challenge #2 — Finding community & supports

Usually, orientation events help to break the ice and showcase opportunities for students to engage with each other in social settings.

Many of this year’s orientation events were shifted to online delivery, but it still may have been a bit more difficult to make these connections.

The important thing to note is that these opportunities (clubs, societies, resources) all still exist and for the most part are all continuing with their mandates. So, it’s not too late if you are looking to get connected to a resource offered here at U of T.

Check out these resources for more information on joining an Engineering specific club/team,  a U of T club/organization or to explore the resources available throughout campus consider downloading the Student Life App.

Challenge #3 — Staying motivated

As you attend classes and complete homework assignments in your room, on your own, in the midst of a global pandemic that may bring up feelings of grief, fear, and a looming second wave it may be challenging to stay motivated. This will be even more difficult if you are met with challenging concepts, a rigorous workload, and possibly grades that are lower than you expected.

In these times, remember that resilience is a process that involves using the resources we have around us, and inside of us, to promote our well-being. When you are met with challenge or failure, reframe it as a learning opportunity and reach out for support. By doing this, you will be displaying your ability to have a grit and growth mindset.

You may choose to reach out to:

The important thing is that you reach out to someone: we are all here to help you succeed!

If things get to be too much to handle on your own or if you are recognizing that your mental health is beginning to affect the way that you would like to function, consider connecting with:

We are all in this together. Welcome to U of T Engineering!