Brock University is taking action to address the rapidly growing demand for student mental health services.
The need for mental health counselling traditionally spikes after the University’s February Reading Week, when schoolwork tends to intensify in preparation for end of term. Through new funding from the Niagara Community Foundation’s David S. Howes Fund, counsellors from the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) will soon be available on campus to assist students with their academic, personal and professional mental health concerns during this busy time.
Operating in addition to the existing mental health options in Student Health Services, Personal Counselling Services and the 24-hour Good 2 Talk hotline, the new service will be offered Monday to Thursday in the James A. Gibson Library from Feb. 25 until April 18, with drop-in sessions running from 4 to 7 p.m.
Sarah Pennisi, Director of Brock’s Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre, said the additional services in the Library serve two purposes.
“Having the CMHA counsellors on site will offer more hours of service during peak demand times and make mental health services highly visible in a central location,” she said. “By making the services visible, we are hoping to increase the likelihood of students seeking help when they need it.”
The partnership with the University will provide more comprehensive counselling services to students both on campus and in the community, said Tara McKendrick, Executive Director of CMHA Niagara.
“Working with Brock has been an excellent opportunity to ensure that mental health supports are timely and accessible to maximize options for student support,” she said. “During these times, it can be extremely helpful to speak with a professional who can help explore tools and options for increased support. CMHA Niagara being on campus also provides an opportunity for students to become aware of resources available off campus if needed.”
The central location of the available services was key in the decision to locate counsellors within the Library’s Matheson Learning Commons, said University Librarian Mark Robertson.
“It’s a very visible space that will help students to easily discover the available counselling options,” he said. “We are about supporting learning, and we see the connection between curricular learning and determinants like mental health that can positively affect it.”
For Pennisi, the new service further demonstrates the University’s commitment to its students through internal and external partnerships.
“Brock is known for being a caring community, and we show our caring and commitment to student success by responding to their needs,” she said. “We recognize there are stakeholders, such as the CMHA and the Library, who bring skills and resources that help us to continue to demonstrate our commitment to student success and well-being.”