The University of Prince Edward Island is holding its first-ever Mental Health Week in an effort to raise awareness and make it easier for people to get help.
Mental Health Week includes workshops, training for staff to recognize warning signs of mental illness, a health fair, yoga and even some puppy therapy for stressed-out students.
UPEI hopes Mental Health Week will help students who are stressed, anxious or depressed. People in their late teens to early 20s are at the highest risk for mental illness.
Christina Carmody, a single mother and a full-time student, said she feels pressure every day.
"Well, juggling all of the courses can be difficult, but coming up with a timeline and scheduling your time really well helps to eliminate some of that stress. But certainly any time between September and April is pretty stressful," she said.
Treena Smith, with Student Affairs UPEI, said she knows young people are struggling.
"A lot of them have housing issues, a lot of them have poverty issues, there’s abuse issues that students are dealing with and so they’re trying to encompass all of those things along with studying and making sure they have good grades," said Smith.
National statistics show 20 per cent of Canadians will deal with mental illness at some point in their lives.
Research at other universities shows that number may be higher for young people.
"There is evidence across universities in Canada that there are rising incidents of depression, anxiety and unfortunately suicide," said Cathy Rose, with Student Affairs at UPEI.
A mural created by young people dealing with mental illness is on display at UPEI. It's a national project touring across Canada.
The university also hopes using social media to spread the word will get people talking.
"I think it’s very complex on a university campus — mental health — and it’s great that we’re spotlighting it this week," said Smith. She said counsellors are busy and the psychiatrist who comes once a week is often booked solid. "We absolutely need more resources," said Smith.
"There is a taboo to it where people don’t want to talk about it, it’s very private, people keep it to themselves but I think, in time, it will certainly become more of a health-related issue," said Carmody.