Mental health on campus

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By Julie Nguyen

On the case of self-care

Mental health is always changing. Within this campus and in your time as a student, you’ll encounter a variety of stressors, some which will test your limits, and some which will leave you pleasantly surprised by your own resiliency. Regardless, every so often we all just need to talk.

UW offers many on campus options for coping with mental health concerns.

Individual counselling and the intake process

At UW Counselling Services, on the second floor of Ira Needles Hall, students can access one-on-one counselling with a counsellor or social worker. During these sessions, students can meet with professionals for an hour to unpack personal, academic and social concerns. Counsellors can also connect you with other resources on campus, like coping skills workshops, UW MATES.

Upon your first visit, you’ll see an intake counsellor who can direct you to the best counsellor for your needs. After which, an appointment can be scheduled or you might be placed on a wait list for the next available appointment. You might have to wait more or less time based on how urgent your mental health needs are.

Group Therapy

An option that most students aren’t aware of is group therapy. Every semester, UW Counselling Services holds a number of one-time seminars, along with regular, weekly group therapy sessions. Topics range from coping mechanisms, preventing depression relapse, and developing a compassionate mind. Attendees go over some ground rules and expectations amongst the group, which can make students more comfortable with sharing.

Unlike in one-on-one therapy, group therapy gives students the option of not sharing. There may be times where you’d rather not speak, and in a group session, you have the option to stay more reserved.

Coping Skills Workshops

These are one-time workshops that allow students to get an introduction to different coping mechanisms relating to anxiety, depression, and stress, followed by a few exercises to practice such skills. Specifically these topics are discussed through four unique workshops: Challenging Thinking, Cultivating Resiliency, Managing Emotions, and Strengthening Motivation.

Workshops are usually held once a week throughout the term. Similar to group therapy, a group of 20 or so students gather and go over ground rules to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing. Then, a facilitator gauges what the members of the group want to take away from the workshop so that everyone has the same expectations. By the end of class, students will have learned skills and resources to help them practice the mechanisms.

UW MATES

This is a peer support service facilitated in partnership with Counselling Services and the Federation of students. This service typically tackles issues around mental health, co-op concerns, coping, and transitioning onto campus. Appointments can be made in advance and you can also stop in during drop-in hours.

With UW MATES, the aim is to allow students a safe space to unpack daily challenges. While UW MATES isn’t a replacement for services provided by Counselling Services, it does provide an empathetic ear for students, in case you might have a lengthy wait between appointments or simply need to chat.

All the members of UW MATES are trained through Counselling Services. UW MATES is completely student- and volunteer-run, with volunteers at various stages of their academic journey. Don’t worry, anything you say during your appointment will be kept confidential.

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