Student health is no less important than academic success

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Every year, Queen’s welcomes thousands of eager-to-learn first-year students who worked extremely hard to get into this high-ranking institution. But the mentality that students must push themselves to get into Queen’s doesn’t stop after they’re accepted into their programs. 
 
University culture has driven students to normalize pulling all-nighters, drinking buckets of coffee to stay awake, and overextending workloads.
 
Overworking has become synonymous with being successful. To become the envy of your peers, it’s common to post at 2:00 a.m. that you just finished an assignment, or #humblebrag about pulling an all-nighter. 
 
A controversial advertisement from Ryerson University echoed this popular “rise and grind” mentality when it was posted across Toronto in mid-September. The ad lists the supposed benefits of an unhealthy academic lifestyle, such as “pulling an all-nighter to finish an undergraduate term paper,” detailing how these harmful practices can prove worth the exhaustion and stress once you get that prestigious degree or pass that difficult class. 
 
But habits like this simply can’t be sustained. They’re harmful to mental and physical health, and they significantly elevate the level of stress caused by the university experience.
 
The fight for better mental health services at universities has already been on the student agenda for years. At Queen’s specifically, students have long called for better services surrounding essential mental health counselling. 
 
Unfortunately, not enough has been done by schools yet. While trying to combat these growing numbers, students need to acknowledge the root of all this stress. 
 
Students are reporting increasing mental health struggles, all while being told to prioritize high grades, maintain a rich social life, and build a well-rounded resume. Schools, instructors, and university employees alike are pressuring students to stretch themselves too thin so they can stand out in a crowd of like-minded peers. 
 
In doing so, students’ wellbeing is put on the backburner.
 
Ultimately, universities need to encourage students to accept that simply doing our best while making mental health a priority is more than acceptable—it’s essential.
 
Implementing more empathetic approaches to evaluations and having a mental health counsellor available in Stauffer Library during its round-the-clock exam period hours are just a few ways Queen’s could communicate to students that the University wants us to succeed in a healthy way. 
 
Until then, spend time enjoying the educational experience Queen’s students have the privilege of participating in. We’re all more than a list of academic achievements. 
 
Allow yourself a break when you need it, forgive yourself for just doing what you can, and try not to let your grades define you. 
 
Jodie is The Journal’s Assistant Photo Editor. She’s a third-year English student.
 

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