Renewed focus on student mental health
Students have been getting multiple messages about the importance of mental health during their first days on campus.
Queen’s has increased its resources and focus on raising awareness among all students about the supports available if they ever need them.
“One of the first things every student in residence would have seen when they walked into their rooms on move-in weekend was a list of daytime and after-hours counseling and support resources posted on the bulletin boards,” says Arig Girgrah, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs.
“This information is also in various publications and on websites so first year students not living in residence, as well as upper year students can access them.”
Ms Girgrah says the university is also raising awareness among families and training those who interact with students all year long.
“We talked to parents about mental health on move-in day, all residence student leaders have received mental health training, dons have taken additional peer helping skills training and we spoke to all 1,000 orientation leaders in small groups about how to recognize the signs of mental health distress, what to say and how to say it. There were very positive discussions.”
There are also more counselors on campus ready to help. In addition to an increased roster of professionals at the Student Counseling Services in the LaSalle Building (146 Stuart Street), there is an additional outreach counselor in residence and a counselor who now works out of the JDUC, offering direct support to students and advising student groups who respond to peers with mental health issues.
“We’ve certainly increased resources and programming over the summer,” says Mike Condra, Director of Health, Counseling and Disability Services (HCDS).
“In the Health Service, we’ve hired a mental health nurse who will help with case management and in Counseling, we’ve added triage counseling to provide immediate intervention in serious cases. We want to do all we can to support students who may feel overwhelmed.”
The university has also partnered with the AMS and SGPS to provide student staff members with training, so they know what to do if they think someone’s in trouble.
“Educating our management teams on the importance of mental health is a priority throughout all of our training this year,” says AMS President Morgan Campbell. “We are also working with HCDS to ensure that we are offering the proper training for all of our staff, and ongoing training throughout the year.”
The university’s awareness efforts will also continue all year. Monthly student wellness emails will be sent to all students that include tips, strategies and resources for dealing with stress.
The university’s Mental Health Working Group continues to develop new initiatives to inform and educate students about the signs of distress, mental health problems and how they can help fellow-students.