November Executive Blog – Mental Health and the Holidays

There’s been a lot of talk lately about politics (like the recent release of the Alberta budget, or the recent federal election and our Get Out the Vote campaign), but I want to switch gears for a moment and touch on something else as we enter into the 2019 holiday season. It’s one of the busiest and most festive times of year, and especially up here in the Edmonton area, it gets pretty dark and cold. Even though it’s a holly jolly time of year, many people struggle with their mental health in December and January.

I’m definitely no exception to this. At AU, we have the Access for Students with Disabilities office, which I am registered with due to my own struggles with mental illness. Every year I feel the effects of the holiday season, especially being a full-time student, student executive, and mom to a little boy. It’s important at this time of year for me to really reflect on the state of my mental health and try to take some measures to cope and manage my illness, and others may find they relate to this as well.

If things are becoming overwhelming for you, or if you just need someone to talk to, Homewood Health is Athabasca University’s 24/7 mental health service that offers students access to counselling sessions and other resources, which can be accessed no matter where you live. It can be challenging to pursue coursework in an often isolating online environment, so if anything is weighing down on you, I highly recommend reaching out to Homewood for some uplifting support.

Speaking of isolation, if you are looking for more engagement with a student community, then you might consider downloading our Athabasca University Student App. Search for it in the app store and check it out! There’s an active online student community there with lots of conversation and information surrounding studying at AU.

It might also be helpful to know that Athabasca University’s office is closed over the winter holiday break and will reopen January 2, 2020. Students whose course end dates fall on December 31, 2019 will have an extra two weeks to write exams without being charged a late exam fee. As long as you give appropriate notice (check the university website here for more information), you will have until January 15, 2019 to write your course exams. But book ahead – exam times book up fast this time of year!

I hope you have a safe and happy holiday season as we head toward December, and make sure to check out Homewood Health if things are getting to be too much.

Best wishes,

Natasha Donahue
VP External and Student Affairs