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Student Voices

Witness anxiety through a student’s eyes

BY JULIANNA GAROFALO | APR 19 2017

Inside Anxiety is a short film written, directed, and produced by RU Student Life — the leading student-run social network at Ryerson University and largest student life brand in the country. The video features five scenarios that depict everyday experiences of anxiety and stress common to many, if not all, post secondary students.

The project was created as a primary feature in RU Student Life’s #TakeCareRU campaign, a collaborative and campus-wide initiative that focuses on physical, mental, and community health by providing resources, programs, stories, and events.

Whether it’s being too depressed to go to class, failing to answer a professor’s discussion question due to social anxiety or struggling to balance friendships and school in “fear of missing out,” mental illness affects far too many young Canadians.

Several of the students involved in the production of Inside Anxiety self-identify as having a mild to severe anxiety disorder. The story took on many iterations through the creative process, and we were intentional about noting that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution or quick fix when it comes to mental illness. While it may seem cliché to some, for many people, realizing “I’m not the only one who feels this way” makes for a very impactful moment. As expressed by our viewers, recognizing their own unhealthy behaviour and thought patterns in the video’s characters was an incredibly powerful, comforting and hopeful experience.

By inviting students to think about their own anxiety and how they practice self-care, we hope to convey a key mental health awareness message: “No story is the same. But you’re never alone.”

Watch the video project, Inside Anxiety

ABOUT JULIANNA GAROFALO
Julianna Garofalo is a digital marketing assistant in the creative unit at Ryerson University Student Affairs.
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  1. Heather / February 10, 2019 at 09:40

    There is an important difference between mental health and mental illness. Mental health refers to cognitive, behavioural and emotional well-being. Everyone has mental health. Mental illness refers to disturbances in one’s cognitive, behavioural and emotional well-being which cause disruption to one’s functioning and/or that of others for a minimum of six weeks to six months (depending on the diagnosis). The issues covered in this article relate to mental health. To equate these experiences within the context presented in this article with mental illness grossly diminishes the intrusiveness of mental illness to one’s functioning.

    Academics and the media need to do a better job of discussing mental health and mental illness. Anxiety, even social anxiety that would prevent one from participating in class discussion, is a perfectly normal experience. I get that mental health and mental illness are popular topics right now but could contributors to University Affairs please stop obfuscating the normal human experience of discomfort, anxiety and non-clinical ‘depression’ with diagnosable illness?

    There are actual diagnostic criteria for something to qualify as “mental illness”. We need to be careful not to pathologize normal, human experience. Yes, learning to develop coping strategies and being told that one’s experiences are completely normal, even if uncomfortable, can be supportive and helpful. People can need and seek support without qualifying for a diagnosis. Equating that need with mental illness makes it harder for the individual to understand and take control of his/her experience. This is a real problem in the fields that treat mental illness. We’re seeing an increase in people seeking diagnoses and treatment for coping with normal, day-to-day discomfort. Please stop perpetuating the idea that if one is struggling, one must be mentally ill.

    Please, please, please, could those who do not have expertise in mental illness kindly either pursue that training or consult with those who do before writing media pieces which equate normal human experiences with mental illness? Healthy mental functioning is not achieved when people are led to believe their experiences are pathological “symptoms” simply because they’re uncomfortable and hinder performance.