About Us

Our main strategies encompass both grassroots level work (through peer health educator outreach) to influencing university wide healthy living strategies. We work from a harm reduction and anti-oppression standpoint on both Keele and Glendon campuses.

Our Health Topics:

Alcohol, Cannabis and other Drugs

Alcohol
According to CAMH, alcohol is a depressant. This means that it can slow down your cognition, and have significant impacts on your thinking, decision-making abilities, heart rate and breathing.

Alcohol comes in different forms. Here is a depiction of different serving sizes:

The same amount of alcohol is contained in 12 fluid ounces of regular beer, 8 to 9 fluid ounces of malt liquor, 5 fluid ounces of table wine, or a 1.5 fluid ounce shot of 80-proof spirits (“hard liquor” such as whiskey, gin, etc.) The percent of ‘pure’ alcohol varies by beverage.

The way alcohol affects you depends on many factors, including:

  • your age, sex and body weight
  • how sensitive you are to alcohol
  • the type and amount of food in your stomach
  • how much and how often you drink
  • how long you've been drinking
  • the environment you're in
  • how you expect the alcohol to make you feel
  • whether you've taken any other drugs (illegal, prescription, over-the-counter or herbal).

How can you drink more safely?

Know your limits
If drinking is something you do when experiencing negative feelings, or to cope with a stressful situation learn more about alternative strategies
Cannabis
On October 17, 2018 recreational cannabis became legal in Canada. York University is focused on maintaining a safe, secure and healthy environment that puts people first, is supportive of the whole person, and enhances the development of physical, mental and spiritual well-being. To learn more about the health impacts click here.

Other Drugs
There are a variety of other drugs that have significant health impacts. Here is a list of different categories of drugs and their possible health impacts:

A) Narcotics

Narcotics are a category of drugs that bind to sites of the brain that dampen the sensation of pain. Often users report the following sensations: pain relief, drowsiness, a sense of intense happiness or excitement. With constant use, narcotics build up in the brain and can block the production of endorphins, which act as a natural pain killing chemical. This often results in using increasing dosages, thereby creating a dependence on the narcotic.

Common narcotics include : morphine, heroin, codeine, opium and oxycodone

B) Inhalants

Inhalants are a category of drug that directly impact the nervous system. Users often report a feeling of intoxication that may be similar to alcohol intoxication. In the short term, users may experience some or all of the following effects: hallucinations, slurred speech, a lack of coordination and a dazed appearance. Continual use has been linked to a number of severe health issues including kidney problems, liver damage, and cognitive impairment.

Common inhalants include: glue, lighter fluid, shoe polish and cleaning fluids

C) Steroids

A harmful group of steroids or anabolic steroids are a category of drugs that are the synthetic form of the male hormone. Typically these are injected directly the muscle. Since this group of drug is a synthetic form of testosterone, use will impact gender presentation. Side effects can include: a more masculine appearance, elevated blood pressure, menstrual irregularities and increased risk of a stroke.

D) Hallucinogens 

Hallucinogens are a group of drugs that have an impact on an individual's perception. Users often report feeling disconnected from their bodies and environment. Hallucinogens can be consumed in a variety of ways including: as tablets, liquids, inhaling, injecting and snorting. Long term use has been linked to speech problems, memory loss, weight loss, anxiety and depression.

Common hallucinogens include: Ketamine, PCP, Salvia

E) Methamphetamine

This category of drug refers to amphetamines- which are stimulants that have the impact of speeding up the body's nervous system. Meth amphetamines can be snorted, swallowed, injected or smoked. Users report feeling an intense feeling of happiness and excitement, often exhibiting grandiose confidence and extreme chattiness. Long term use has been linked to increased risk of heart disease, severe tooth decay, difficulty sleeping and an increased risk of Parkinson's disease.

Common methamphetamines include: speed, crystal meth, chalk

Mental Health

Mental health is more than the absence of a mental illness. While this is an important part of mental health, it is also critical to focus on what helps a person thrive. In recognizing that wellness is a necessary pre-condition to learning and working, and that physical, emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual, mental, and cultural and environmental health and learning are interdependent. Through a variety of education, training and awareness events, York aims to promote a more holistic, and integrated approach to campus health.

Mental Illness vs. Mental Health

Debunking common myths 

According to the World Health Organization, mental health is defined as a “state of wellbeing in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to her or his community” (World Health Organization, 2014).

1 in 5 vs. 5 in 5

According to national statistics, 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental health issue in their lifetime. However, what is less widely understood is that 5 in 5 all have mental health. We all have mental health.

Getting Support

Resources at York

Available trainings

How to make an appointment at counselling?

Resources outside York

Need help right now? 

Self-Care

The 5 Ways to Well-Being were developed by the New Economics Foundation, from
evidence gathered in the UK government’s Foresight Project on Mental Capital and
Well-being. The Project, published in 2008, drew on state-of-the-art research about mental capital and mental well-being through life.

1. Connect

Evidence consistently demonstrates that fostering close connections and feeling
valued by those in our networks and beyond can be an essential way to fostering
well-being.

2. Be Active

Studies show that physical activity has a strong correlation to lower rates of
depression and anxiety throughout the lifespan. New evidence also suggests that
developing good exercise habits in early life can slow down possible cognitive
decline.

3. Take Notice

Being cognizant about what’s taking place around you and noticing when you are
fully present can be helpful in improving your own sense of well-being.

4. Keep Learning

Carving out the time for continued growth through learning can help to enhance
self-esteem and encourage more social interaction throughout the lifespan. Setting
small, attainable goals and then working towards them has been correlated with
higher levels of self-satisfaction and well-being in adults.

5. Give

Being an active member of a community is correlated with higher levels of self reported happiness in adults. Those who carved out time to volunteer in their
community were less likely to display symptoms of depression as older adults.

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Nutrition

Healthy eating is critical to overall health and your success as a student. But on a student's budget, it can seem difficult to eat balanced and create healthy meals on a regular basis. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Plan ahead
    • By prepping for your week ahead you able to minimize the likelihood that you will eat more convenient but less healthy options on nights that you're working late or squeezed for time.
  • Collect coupons
    • Many major grocery stores are likely to price match with their competitors so it can be worthwhile to check for coupons. Also, knowing what's available on sale can help with meal prep for the week!
  • Make a list before shopping
    • Often it can be tempting to buy everything that looks good to you when shopping for food. By making a list you're more likely to buy what you need and not stray.
  • Look out for generic brands
    • Recognized name brands are often marked-up and often are not that different from generic brands which are available at a much cheaper prices.
  • Buy frozen fruits and vegetables
    • Fresh fruits and vegetables can often be very expensive and if you don't use it in time can spoil. Frozen fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious, cheaper and can be stored for a much longer time.

This list was adapted from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/19-ways-to-eat-healthy-on-a-budget#section13

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Sleep

Sleep is essential for better health and can have significant impacts on learning and memory. While there's still more to learn about how sleep can affect a person, we know that a lack of adequate and quality sleep can have profound impacts on our ability to retain and retrieve information.

Stage 1: 

  • lasts from 5-10 minutes
  • is the lightest of the stages of sleep
  • at this point the individual can be easily awakened

Stage 2:

  • body temperature decreases at this stage
  • heart rate is slowed
  • lasts about 20 minutes
  • re-occurs briefly after stage 3

Stage 3:

  • is known as the "deep sleep" stage
  • is the longest of the sleep cycle- lasting about 30 minutes
  • an individual is less likely to respond to noise during this part of the cycle

REM

  • is intermittent
  • each stage lasts 5-30 minutes
  • eyes experience rapid and random movements
  • if an individual is awoken at this stage, they will likely remember their dreams

Below is a depiction of the different stages of the sleep cycle. A full cycle should ideally last between 90-120 minutes, and is repeated 4-5 times during an 8 hour period.

Total Sleep Time In Different Sleep Stages

Often people are curious to know what the ideal amount of sleep they need to function well. This number depends on the individual and a number of different factors:

A) Age

B) Genetics

C) Recent Physical or Mental Activity

D) Overall Health

Below is a image depicting how much sleep is roughly needed for different age categories.

Sleep Duration Recommendations 

Sleep deprivation is a condition where an individual gets less sleep than they need to feel awake and alert. This can be characterized by the following:

A) Taking 30+ minutes to fall asleep

B) Worry about getting enough sleep most nights

C) Waking during the night and having great difficulty falling back asleep

D) Feel the need to sleep in or take daytime naps

E) Feeling drowsy during the day, or relying on caffeine to stay alert

Insomnia refers to when an individual has great difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. This can be characterized by the following:

A) difficulty falling asleep

B) waking up frequently during the night

C) difficulty returning to sleep

D) waking up too early in the morning

E) not feeling refreshed after sleep

F) daytime sleepiness

G) difficulty concentrating

H) irritability

How to Sleep Smart?

  1. Avoid external lights
  2. Cut out electronics atleast one hour before bedtime
  3. Take power naps during the day
  4. Use a smart alarm
  5. Develop a bedtime routine

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Sexual Health

Sexual health encompasses not only the prevention of disease, but runs the gamut from safe condom use and birth control to sexuality and relationships. Open and frank discussions about sex is critical but often it can be hard to begin this conversation. Here are few things to think about before navigating "the talk"

  • Timing
    • Often, it may be best to wait until you've processed your feelings and are able to have the conversation objectively and without interruptions
  • Openness
    • It's natural to have your needs and desire change over time, even if you've been with your partner(s) long-term! Being honest and direct is the best way to articulate your needs
  • Respect
    • Talking about sex can be an uncomfortable topic for so many people, so it's essential to listen make sure you give your partner the space they need to articulate themselves. Take time throughout the conversation to check-in with one another and make sure you're both on the same page!
  • Setting Boundaries
    • Everyone has their limits, and certain triggers that make them uncomfortable. If an interaction makes you uncomfortable it's important to acknowledge your feelings. Being clear and direct in how you feel is an essential part to coming to a healthy compromise.

This list was adapted from: http://asaap.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/The-Talk-Brochure.pdf

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