Finding Hope and Support at School: Sam’s Story

LOFT’s campus support program offers long-term assistance to students struggling with mental health challenges

A full-time student at Toronto Metropolitan University University, Sam* (they/them) was bright and creative. They had a gift for writing poetry and performed very well academically. At the same time, however, they were experiencing complex trauma and two mental health diagnoses. The stress of managing the symptoms of mental illness, coupled with a heavy school workload, led Sam to seek short-term emergency support at Toronto Metropolitan University. 

Actively suicidal, Sam was soon referred to LOFT in order to allow access to more resources and long-term guidance. Sam was paired with a LOFT staff member for one on one support. Together they worked on Sam’s tendency to fixate on the future. They established grounding exercises and set weekly short-term goals that helped Sam to live in the present.

Sam started to attend skills groups, learning how to manage their emotions and reduce destructive behaviour. They also participated in a Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) program, a type of therapy that teaches people how to live in the moment and develop healthy coping strategies and relationships. This program is funded by the Schulich Foundation.

LOFT referred Sam to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) for more extensive clinical care. Through this experience, they connected with a psychiatrist who helped them explore their diagnosis and medications.

Throughout their journey, Sam received continuous support. When therapy was triggering, LOFT  was there to help them with safety planning. As time went by, Sam became more skilled at noticing and identifying symptoms, understanding what was happening, and quickly employing strategies learned in therapy in order to find stability. They also became more creative and found more success in school.

In 2019, Sam graduated from university with honours. Sam also created a short film that we proudly featured in an art show organized by LOFT’s Transitional Age Youth program.

* We changed the client’s name and photo to protect their privacy.