Counselling services recently started following a guideline that only allows for a maximum of six sessions per student, down from the previous 10 .
The guideline was brought out partly to reduce wait time and because many past cases have been dealt within a six session period.
“I’m sympathetic to Counselling Services difficulties in reducing the waitlist, and I don’t necessarily think that it’s all their job all the time,” said Michael Beauchemin, President of the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA).
People have different needs, some need the assistance of a counsellor or a psychiatrist while others receive sufficient help from peer services without the need of going to counselling services.
There is no other trained professional alternative on campus for anyone who would like to speak to someone.
The only other route for support that students can find on campus would be through student support groups such as Mentor Assistance Through Education and Support (MATES).
WUSA has recently been working on bringing another alternative to campus called the Student Assistance Plan (SAP) for mental health which would be within the Health Plan.
The SAP is similar to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which is a 24-hour crisis and referral centre where calls are answered by mental health professionals.
“The idea was well-received, and we are currently doing a mini-request for proposal to pick the plan that best suits student needs,” Beauchemin said.
This plan would allow for students to use both Counselling Services and the SAP to identify their needs and better care for themselves.
With the Health Plan already reimbursing up to 80 per cent or $400 per year, the SAP along with MATES and Counselling Services is expected to meet student needs on campus.
“If a student feels their treatment at Counselling Services has been unfair, I would encourage them to reach out to their Students’ Councillors to raise it as a concern,” Beauchemin added.
“It’s easy to get an initial first appointment but it’s like three to four months of waiting on the waitlist to make actual progress. Until then, I’ve been trying to go to support groups and even off-campus services like CMHA,” said a Reddit user.
Students can access resources off-campus and community resources like kwcounselling.com that has affordable drop-in sessions provided for as little as $15 which has been made possible through United Way.