The semester had just begun, and I logged into my email to check for an update about where one of my new classes was being held. The email was sitting in my inbox (third-floor, North side – my glutes better be ready for a workout). But underneath it was another message. One that CMU students receive fairly often, and one that brings me so much comfort.

“Did you know we have volunteer counsellors on campus? The counselling sessions are free for all CMU students.”

The email goes on to explain that there is a counsellor available on campus every day from Monday to Friday, and how to get connected with them. It’s a simple process.

I’ve never seen one of these on-campus counsellors. But they have still helped me immensely. They’re one of the reasons I decided to come to CMU. Let me explain…

Prior to my first semester here, I had just begun going to therapy. A recent diagnosis of a Generalized/Unspecified Anxiety Disorder had led me to therapy, medication, and a new and necessary focus on my mental health.

Illustration by @chloejletters

Starting therapy was terrifying. To put things simply, it’s basically a process of unscrewing your brain like a mason jar and pouring all the contents onto the table for you and a total stranger to sift through. Even the stuff you keep at the bottom of the jar, the stuff you swore you’d never let anyone see. Slowly, but surely, you and your therapist start sorting. She explains why certain stuff is in the jar, and how to clean it out to make room for better stuff. She explains that your jar is a little different than other jars, and that it’s perfectly okay. She explains that keeping your jar in order will take a bit more effort, but that you’re capable and strong enough to do it.

Therapy is so cool. It’s exhausting and definitely not easy, but it’s so dang cool.

So, I had just entered this state of healing and understanding with my therapist. I was doing better than ever before because of my time with her. My goal was to go to university, but going to university also meant I’d be miles away from my therapist. The very thing that was helping me move forward was also the thing that made me want to stay put. It was confusing, to say the least.

Then I went for a tour of CMU’s campus. At some point during the tour, I nervously asked an admissions counsellor if there were any resources for students who had mental illnesses. And boy, was that admissions counsellor thrilled to tell me about those volunteer counsellors that were on campus every single day of the week. Just knowing that they existed brought me so much comfort and relief, that choosing CMU was a no-brainer. I may have been moving away from my therapist, but I was moving to a place where I knew I could get help if I needed it.

Once again, I’ll say that I haven’t felt the need to see one of these counsellors. Which is something I celebrate every day! However, many of my conversations with my friends here on campus about mental health and my experience with therapy/counselling have led me to recommend the on-campus counsellors. I love to forward that email that shows up consistently in my inbox. And I can honestly say that so many students here (likely more than I even realize) have benefited greatly from this resource. And it doesn’t cost a thing.

Therapy and counselling are SO COOL. And I’ll say it every chance I get.

– Chloe Friesen, 3rd Year Communications and Media Student

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This week is CMU’s annual Wellness Week! CMU is committed to promoting and encouraging holistic health and wellness for all in the community. Join us for a week of exploration, re-prioritization and rest as we learn new ways and remember old ways to be well!