During high school, Noor-Ul Ain faced a difficult situation.
An aunt in Pakistan suffered a third heart attack and Ur Ain wanted to support his family.
When she asked about skipping school and traveling around the world to help relatives, she says she had to convince the principal that stress was taking its toll on her mental health. .
“She told me my grades were actually more important. It was terrible.
Now 19, she was able to attend for her family, keep her grades, and eventually study kinesiology at the University of Calgary.
But the experience has made her advocate for better mental health practices and speak out about the pressures students face.
Peer Pressure in South Asian Communities
For Manahil Hussain, the biggest pressure she feels is the need to succeed.
When he entered university, he was worried about how to incorporate work, school, extracurricular activities, and volunteer activities into his schedule.
The 19-year-old psychology student, who comes from a family of immigrants from South Asia, says she has internalized the expectation of success.
“They have sacrificed so much for me that I have to do better in school. she said.
According to Hussain, in South Asian communities, parents sometimes project their goals onto their children.
“It was a really big burden for me. I had to make my parents proud … I was trying to make them happy instead of making myself happy.”
Faryal Qureshi, also Pakistani-Canadian, said he experienced another struggle in his community.
The 20-year-old says many South Asian parents come from disadvantaged backgrounds, making it taboo to discuss mental health openly.
From the thought, “Essentially, if you, I mean, if you have a good quality of life, if you have a decent standard of living, how can you possibly be depressed?” Come.
Aside from the stigma surrounding the topic, Qureshi says that since returning home, she has turned to the pressure that women and girls have to look a certain way.
“I’ve had little girls come up to me and say, ‘I wonder how much I weigh, I think I’m overweight.’ They’re about five or six years old,” Qureshi previously explained. Remember the “terrifying” example of
“My friend’s mother was actually from a particular village, and what the girls did was actually starve themselves until their collarbones became prominent again.
These stories stunned her at the time, but she says social media puts the same stress on young Calgary students.
social media anxiety
Between filters and curated presentations of happy living on social media, Qureshi says the pressure to be “perfect” is detrimental to young people’s mental health.
“You feel like you have to be a certain way, you have to fit into a certain category. And this mold made for you, you have to fit very tight.” There is a mold,” she said.
“And we know specifically that it encourages eating disorders, especially for many girls.”
Qureshi says it’s sad to look in the mirror and think that some people are disgusting, and believes social media plays a big role in making people feel that way.
Additionally, Quresi says social media is “extremely addictive”, wasting time and energy, leading to backlogged tasks and putting pressure on mental health.
“It didn’t make me depressed or do anything, but it was turning my brain into mush,” she said.
“I couldn’t do my daily activities. I was exhausted. When you’re getting all that kind of dopamine rush, it’s a very exhausting experience, so it feels really weird. ”
And when she fell into the scroll’s trap for several hours, she says she ended up with overwhelming guilt.
“My life is garbage. What should I do? I’m a terrible person. I’ll be homeless. I’m never going to work,” Qureshi said. spend time online.
“Actually, my sister took my phone and put in the password and I couldn’t see it for about a month.”
ask for help
While her high school experience may have influenced her mental health advocacy, Ul Ain says colleges seem more focused on helping students struggling with mental health.
She says there are many places on campus where help can be accessed, including student-run clubs and facilities at the school itself, but some pieces are still missing.
“I don’t get a lot of support from the government or anything like that, so that’s what I crave the most. I want that kind of support from teachers and professors, because I don’t have much of that. ”.
Resources exist on campus, but all three of these young students agree they are difficult to find.
They want these supports to be better communicated so that no one keeps chasing help when they are already at their lowest point.
“You have to grab the attention of your students…you have to make them feel safe and comfortable talking to you,” says Ul Ain.
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