Mediaplanet spoke with Torri Webster — content creator, social media influencer, and Ryerson University graduate — about experiencing mental health issues and tips for maintain mental wellness.
What do you think contributes to the high number of students who are struggling with mental health issues?
I believe students are struggling with mental health issues right now because we live in such a fast-paced society and there’s a lot of pressure put on students to perform at a very high level. I think there’s also an expectation that students put on themselves that they need sky-high marks and perfect scores to find success later in life, and this is simply not true.
Of course, trying your best and putting in time and effort are crucial, but I believe the standards young students are putting on themselves can be detrimental to their learning and their mental health. We all need to be a bit gentler on ourselves and to try to enjoy the process of growing, whether it’s in our personal lives or our research and academic work.
There’s a vast comparison game happening due to the presence of social media, so if a student doesn’t feel as accomplished or successful as a classmate or a professional they’re following online, there’s an immediate stint of anxiety that creeps in. I urge young people to look inward at their skills, passions, and individuality, and to focus on those as opposed to external influences.
What advice do you have for youth who are dealing with mental health issues?
- You’re not alone. We all go through different levels of stress and anxiety as we grow up, and keeping these thoughts to yourself is never the answer.
- Talk to friends, family, and loved ones to get the necessary emotional support.
- Stay active and move your body! Staying active will always help lift your spirits and empower you in a new way.
- Focus on your passions. It can be as simple as focusing on graphic design, photography, art, or whatever brings you joy. Spend a little bit of time each day dedicated to perfecting that craft or skill.
- Don’t forget to turn off your phone and disconnect. Learning about yourself can be as easy as going for a nice walk, reading an exciting book, or slowing down your pace for the day. Disconnecting from the virtual world and finding time to connect to the physical world are crucial for happiness in our day and age.
What are some strategies you use to relax when you’re feeling stressed about things like school and personal relationships?
Some strategies I use when I’m feeling overwhelmed or stressed are as easy as baking cupcakes or playing around with a new recipe. I think it’s all about distracting the brain and giving it something fun and relaxing to focus on.
Watch your favourite show or movie, even if you’ve seen it before — sometimes I think this works even better because you don’t have to worry about how things end. Since you already know the story, you can let your guard down and enjoy the entertainment. Journal, write down your thoughts, or light a candle and listen to a funny podcast. These are all things I continue to do when I sense a spark of anxiety coming on.
How important do you think it is for young people to seek treatment for mental health issues?
There’s so much power in sharing your thoughts and stories with others. Young people should never be afraid to seek treatment for any dark thoughts or insecurities that are affecting their day-to-day energy and feelings. We should all be passionate about working toward being our very best selves, and tackling these mental health issues at a young age allows us to find best practices to deal with these feelings as we grow into our adult lives.
Face mental health issues head on and don’t wait. From experience, things tend to get worse before they get better, so be patient with yourself, be kind to yourself, and don’t shut out the people you love. They’re there to guide and enlighten your journey through life, so take that support and run toward your best self!