Types of mental health conditions

Do you need urgent help? Are you in crisis, feeling unsafe, or worried you might hurt yourself or others? If you are experiencing a life-threatening issue, please call 911 or contact the Campus Special Constable Service (519) 888-4911, ext 22222.

We all have mental health. Sometimes, the line between mental health and mental illness is fuzzy and we need help navigating our feelings, or clarification around when to reach out for help. Below is some information on the most common mental health conditions experienced by post-secondary students. Of course, there are other conditions not listed below. For information on conditions not listed, please consult your medical professional. The following information is NOT a diagnostic tool, but can be used to learn more about these conditions, as well as how and when to reach out for help.

For information on the types of mental health practitioners and common treatment approaches, please see our Types of Mental Health Support, and Types of Mental Health Practitioners webpages.

pile of rocks beside a beach

Common Mental Health Conditions


Per the Canadian Mental Health Association, Anxiety is your body’s response to stress (internal or external), and may show in a feeling of apprehension, nervousness, or worry that can motivate or warn us of danger.

Some Specific Conditions Common Signs & Symptoms Common Treatment Types Self-Assessment Tools
  • Phobias
  • Panic Disorder
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Muscles tension
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Racing heart
  • Counselling, helping identify and change unhelpful patterns of thinking that feed anxious thoughts.
  • Medication, anti-anxiety or anti-depressants.
  • Support groups, sharing experiences, and learning from others who understand.
  • Self Help Strategies
  • Click here for a checklist of symptoms related to each category of anxiety disorder.
  • Click here for an online screening tool. 
  • Click here for an additional screening tool that might help you become aware of what's bothering you.
    Anxious Clipart Brain

More information about anxiety can be found here.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder is a medical condition where someone alternates between states of depression and an elevated mode (referred to as mania). These states may last from weeks to months with periods of feeling “normal” in between.

Common Signs & Symptoms Common Treatment Types Self-Assessment Tools
  • A high state called mania
  • A low state called depression
  • A well state where people feel normal and function well
  • Medication
  • Psychotherapy
  • Click here for an online screening tool that will help you become aware of possible risk factors.
    Happy and Sad Masks Clipart

More information about anxiety can be found here.


Per the World Health Organization, “Depression is a common mental disorder affecting more than 264 million people worldwide. It is characterized by persistent sadness and a lack of interest or pleasure in previously rewarding or enjoyable activities.”

Common Signs and Symptoms Common Treatment Types Self-Assessment Tools
  • Sad, despairing mood
  • Changes in appetite
  • Sleep problems
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Feeling useless, hopeless, or guilty
  • Having low self-esteem
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Medication
  • Psychotherapy
  • Click here for an online screening tool that will help you become aware of possible risk factors.
    Depressed teen clipart

More information on depression can be found here.

Eating Disorder

Most eating disorders involve an obsession with food, eitherrelated to body shape or independent of body shape. This obsession may lead to restriction of food intake, food binging and over eating, or purging behaviours to compensate for intake such as vomiting or over exercising.

Common Signs & Symptoms Common Treatmen Types Self-Assessment Tools
  • An obsession with food
  • Very restricted eating patterns (several)
  • Episodes of binge eating followed by purging behaviours (Bulimia)
  • Individual counselling
  • Family-based therapy
  • Medications
  • Hospitalization (if necessary)
Click here for a brief screening tool and more information and resources on eating disorders.
Person Eating Clipart

More information on eating disorders can be found here.


Per the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Schizophrenia involves an abnormal interpretation of reality. It is a complex mental illness that affects how a person thinks, feels, behaves and relates to others.

Common Signs & Symptoms Common Treatment Types Self-Assessment Tools

Symptoms are categorized as positive symptoms, negative symptoms, or cognitive (which may intersect).

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Thought disorders
  • Anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure)
  • Medication
  • Individual, group, or family therapy
Click here for screening if you are experiencing any symptoms or signs related to Schizophrenia.

More informaton on schizophrenia can be found here.

Substance Abuse

The following information is in regards to non-prescription use of drugs, or misuse of prescribed/legal substances. This can include things such as over the counter medications, alcohol, marijuana, opioids etc., that are taken excessively orfor a reason other than as directed by your medical professional. This is in addition to the use of controlled substances such as cocaine, ecstasy and other party drugs that are not legal in Canada.

Common Signs & Symptoms Common Treatment Types Self-Assessment Tools
  • Impairment, including disability, health problems, and inability to meet responsibilities at work, school, or home.
  • Dependance on a substance to function, experiencing withdrawal if substance isn’t used with symptoms such as sweating, chills, irritability, nervousness, agitation, nausea, stomach pain, and body pain, among others.
  • Counselling
  • Cognititve Behavioural Therapy
  • Harm Reduction + Set of resources
  • Substance replacement therapy
Click here for a precedent for some questions about substance abuse.
pill bottles clipart

More information on substance abuse can be found here.