The month of November is gray and dull. It begins to get darker earlier, it's colder, and the sun and its vitamin D are more precious. And if you're a Quebec university student, then you have to add courses, assignments, exams, and all the stress and pressure to succeed that comes with the end of the semester. It's a lot to handle all that. A new survey from the Quebec Student Union (UEQ) revealed that almost 60% of university students in Quebec suffer from psychological distress.

In fact, this pan-Quebec inquiry, called "Under your facade" ("Sous ta façade" in French), studied the psychological and mental health of university students in the province.

In total, 23,881 students across Quebec responded to a questionnaire on the subject and the results are quite alarming.

58% of university students have a high level of psychological distress, according to the UEQ.

According to the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services, "psychological distress results from a set of negative emotions that, when they are persistent in an individual, can lead to important health consequences such as depression and anxiety" (translated from French). 

"The figures are very worrying, especially with regard to depressive symptoms and suicide attempts," says Philippe LeBel, president of the UEQ.

In fact, the survey found that one in five students suffers from fairly serious depression symptoms that require psychological care.

In comparison to the general population, twice as many students have made suicide attempts and three times more have had suicidal thoughts.

With this survey, the UEQ wants the government to put in place "a national policy to improve students' psychological health," added Mr. Lebel.

The UEQ also held a press briefing Tuesday morning at the National Assembly of Quebec to present this report and put pressure on the government to act. Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois of Québec Solidaire joined Mr. Lebel.

The FAÉCUM, which brings together all the student associations of the Université de Montréal, also highlighted the urgent need for action on these findings.

The UEQ, therefore, calls for strategies to reduce loneliness, improve support among colleagues, and reduce competition between them, in addition to reducing financial precariousness and improving the habits of students.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with thoughts of harming themselves, please reach out to a trusted peer, parent or health care professional. You can also contact a local helpline which is available 24-hours a day to talk. Or click here, for additional support resources.

If you need immediate assistance please call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest hospital.

Support is available.

This article was originally published in French on Narcity Québec.

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