Last spring, Brock students took some responsibility for their own well-being when they approved a new student fee through the Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU) that will help pay for increased mental and physical health supports at the University.
“This is about creating a healthy campus for our students by fostering wellness, health, physical activity and connectedness through enhanced student health, recreation and athletics services,” says Melodie Shick-Porter, director, Student Health Services.
The Brock University Student Life Fee, which adds up to $20 per credit, or roughly $100 a year per student, goes towards supporting and improving services and programs offered by Brock Student Health Services/Student Services, Recreation Services and Athletics.
In supporting mental health and well-being on campus, the University is introducing a 24-hour study social space and a fall reading break.
The student life fee is also helping to enhance student mental health support by increasing resources for mental health management, psychiatric support, and health and wellness staff. This includes hiring a mental health nurse, psychologist and health promotion educator, as well as creating nine new student jobs in areas of health and wellness, physical activity and mental health, and communications.
The funding will furthermore facilitate improved co-ordination between departments and groups on campus as well as with outside agencies, including the Canadian Mental Health Association, Pathstone Mental Health and Niagara Health System. These partnerships will help support more initiatives related to raising awareness of mental health issues, de-stigmatizing mental illness, encouraging early identification of mental health problems, and providing co-ordinated resources and supports to students.
Examples include on-campus initiatives, such as nurse-led “Walk and Talk, Be Well at Brock” health sessions, the “1 in 5, Let’s Talk About It” and “No B.S.” anti-stigma campaigns, the therapy dog program during exam times, and the annual “Speak Out Evening” where students share their experiences with mental health.
“There have been many positive changes that have already taken place and continue to take place for Brock students since the referendum passed in March 2013,” says Tessa Parkes, peer health educator co-ordinator. “My hope is that more students will feel encouraged to use available resources, help each other find support and feel comfortable accessing the services on campus.”
The Recreation Services part of the fee provides access for all undergraduate students to Brock’s fitness and recreation centre. This includes enhanced fitness programming, such as spinning, full body fitness, mini boot camp and more. Aquatic fitness programs will be added to this list of services when Brock’s pool re-opens later this month.
Recreation Services stats indicate that usage of Brock fitness and recreation facilities is up approximately 1,000 uses per week over last year.
The Athletics portion of the fee includes new supports for student engagement and school spirit, including free admission to Brock Varsity regular season games and the creation of an enhanced sport club system to manage competitive and recreational sport clubs.
As an example, this school year, Brock Athletics has hired a clubs co-ordinator and has accepted nine new University teams representing 225 additional athletic engagement opportunities for students.