U of M strike: Cancelled classes trigger 'complete depression spiral,' trip to crisis centre, for student
'It’s really hard for somebody with mental illness,' says Aly Raposo, fourth-year student
A University of Manitoba student who lives with mental illness says the damaging effects of the ongoing professor strike on her mental health have already sent her to a crisis centre once, and says she wants to see school administration meet union demands.
Aly Raposo is in her fourth year of the U of M's women and gender studies program. All four of her classes are cancelled to accommodate professors on the picket line, and she says the loss of structure and class relationships has sent her into a "complete depression spiral."
"Without having that structure and that feeling of home and feeling of equality [at school], it's really hard for somebody with mental illness," she said.
Raposo said she supports the University of Manitoba Faculty Association's demands and believes professors are on strike for the right reasons, but wants to get back in the classroom as soon as possible.
She said she wants to see administration meet union demands and end the strike, which began on Nov. 1.
"I feel extremely let down, but the only person to blame for that would be the university and the admin," she said.
She's on track to graduate in the summer, but as the strike goes on she's scared she won't be able to.
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'Lying in bed everyday crying'
Raposo said she's coping by researching UMFA's position and hitting the picket lines with professors, where some of her professors hold "teach-ins" and talk about feminist perspectives on the issues at hand.
She said messaging to students from administration has been "very short, very informal."
"There's not a lot of information other than saying, 'This has been difficult for students and I recognize that.' But I'm not really sure they do recognize actually how difficult it has been," she said.
"For me, lying in bed everyday crying, that's pretty difficult, and that's a lot further than what he would assume."
Raposo doesn't use university mental health resources herself. She said she's heard from friends that there are long waitlists for some of the services such as counselling.
University of Manitoba spokesman John Danakas said the school has been widely publicizing its mental health resources from day one of the strike.
The school offers group and individual counselling appointments and student support case management, as well as support at a variety of centres on campus, and Danakas said traffic has been lighter than normal during the strike.
"Please don't take this to mean students don't have concerns anxieties and mental health issues associated with the strike. They do," Danakas wrote in an email.
"The university is aware of that and committed to helping and alleviating. The strike presents challenges to students. That's why the university is offering supports."
A list of mental health and wellness supports available to students during the strike can be found here.