U of Windsor engineering students plead for mental health resources

Engineering students from the University of Windsor say they desperately need dedicated mental health resources as school pressures intensify.

Students break down crying in hallways and bathrooms, say speakers at CBC Windsor's town hall

CBC Windsor Town Hall

6 years ago
Duration 0:41
Engineering students at the University of Windsor issue emotional plea for help.

Engineering students from the University of Windsor issued an emotional plea for help Wednesday night because too many of them suffer from severe anxiety and stress under increasing pressures from school.

Several students fought back tears during a town-hall discussion on campus hosted by CBC Windsor. They explicitly asked a panel of experts for dedicated services inside the engineering building.

Eleane Paguaga Amador broke down crying as she described how she and her roommates discovered a roommate who died by suicide in their dorm back in April 2015.

When asked about how the school supported the students following the death, Paguaga Amador said students were not exempted from up-coming exams and were offered very little support.

School officials took issue with those comments. Vice president of academic Douglas Kneale said every student was offered exemptions, but some of them did the exams anyway.

"There were lots of accommodations," he told CBC News. Also, "there was quite a bit of counselling back in 2015 with that one incident."

Paguaga Amador has since confirmed exemptions were offered. She decided to write her exams anyway.

During the town hall meeting, Papuaga Amador told the panel her friend could still be alive, if he had access to the right servies.

"I just want to know what it is you can do for us," she told the panel. "We can't risk losing somebody else because we don't have anything to give them."

Engineering students Eleane Paguaga Amador and Julia Costa say their department needs to offer dedicated mental health services because too many students suffer from overwhelming pressures. (Derek Spalding/CBC)

Students break down crying

The stress levels in the engineering building are palpable, explained third-year student Julia Costa, who has seen plenty of people break down crying in the hallways. 

"You can hear, sometimes, people crying in the bathrooms," she said. "It's not uncommon to see people sleeping in the engineering building because they're not living at home."

Heavy course loads are a common issue with students taking more than five courses each semester and completing work co-op programs, leaving them without any down time during official school breaks.

"We are in course overload at all times, and that's normal for us — we're always taking six classes," Costa said. 

One of the four panellists at Wednesday night's town hall vowed to work with the engineering students to get them the needed help.

Mohsan Beg, a clinical psychologist and director at the university's Student Counselling Centre, suggested the centre may need to set up services in the engineering department.

"Even if we start with one day a week, it's something we can provide in the actual building," he said.

Paguaga Amador does not blame the school, or anyone, for her friend's suicide. She just wants to have services readily available, to give someone else a chance to get the help they need.