Students accessing mental health services on campus may face new challenges when they start their work terms. Co-op advisers are the first source of assistance, although it’s still possible to access on-campus mental health and counselling facilities.</p>
According to Rocco Fondacaro and Jeremy Steffler from Co-operative Education & Career Action (CECA), it’s common that students approach CECA to request assistance and support surrounding the job search and concerns that arise during their work terms. CECA collaborates with on-campus facilities such as Mental Health Services and Counselling Services, who “have routinely supported students while on work term, whether arranging for telephone support or making referrals to support services in the area that the individual is working.” While specific concerns raised by students cannot be disclosed, Fondacaro and Steffler said, “CECA student advisers focus on connecting with on-campus supports for guidance and working with on-campus partners and the student to facilitate any requested dialogue with employers.”
Students on work terms are encouraged to be proactive in connecting with on-campus support prior to their work terms to ensure that they have appropriate plans in place if the need to access support during their work term arises. Tom Ruttan, director of Counseling Services, said that Counselling Services works hard to prepare students who are going on a work term through regular followup emails or phone calls. Ruttan also stated that although it is rare that students on co-op terms seek urgent support, when it happens it is a priority for both the co-op adviser and Counselling Services to figure out the best way to support students.
Students working close to campus can still access face-to-face services, while students working in further areas can be supported through online services or they can be connected by Counselling Services with local available resources. Ruttan also said that co-op advisers are generally the primary contact of students on work terms as they tend to build better relationship with the students, and they are familiar with all on-campus resources such as Mental Health Services, Counselling Services, Student Success Office, and AccessAbility Services.
Fondacaro and Steffler also explained that it is important for students to realize that mental health concerns do not need to be disclosed in order to receive support, as CECA student advisers will connect with the students and the appropriate parties for guidance and support without the individual needing to reveal any specific information.
Currently, Counselling Services is seeking an appropriate and secure platform for video conference calls, which will be helpful for students who are far away from campus.