Enhanced mental health services ready to help Brock students through term

Brock University has ramped up available mental health resources during a busy time of year.

As students begin work on term papers and major assignments in preparation for final exams, they will have access to additional mental health counselling options thanks to the return of counsellors from the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).

Support from the Niagara Community Foundation’s David S. Howes Community Fund has allowed counsellors to take up their familiar post-Reading Week role, albeit in a new online format.

This year, CMHA counsellors will be available to assist students with their personal, professional and academic mental health concerns and can be reached online through the Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre (SWAC) website. Counsellors will be available Monday to Thursday from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. until the beginning of exams Dec. 10.

Along with the return of CMHA counsellors, existing mental health resources are also available in Student Health Services and Student Counselling Services, and through the 24-hour Good 2 Talk hotline.

SWAC Director Sarah Pennisi said the resources create a range of opportunities for any student to access help they may need.

“At SWAC, we want students to know we are here to listen and help them with their mental health concerns,” she said. “That’s why we are offering something for everyone. We have online workshops, peer virtual activities, group sessions on Thursday evenings now until exams start, and one-on-one appointments with highly skilled and caring professionals.”

In addition to campus-wide resources, Brock has also embedded counsellors in the Faculty of Mathematics and Science (FMS) as part of an ongoing initiative that has previously focused on other areas of the University where need for enhanced support was recognized.

Co-ordinated by Brock’s From Intention to Action (FITA) program, the service allows students to schedule an appointment through the FMS website and to receive rapid response from FITA counsellors. FITA counselling focuses on students who are struggling academically while also facing mental health challenges.

After an initial appointment, students will receive further resources to support their individual needs and may be eligible for a series of weekly, one-on-one sessions with a FITA counsellor to address their academic and mental health goals.

The Faculty’s Undergraduate Academic Advisor Heather Bellisario said the service will be useful for Math and Science students.

“As we are approaching midterms, this is a great time to be adding this service specifically for FMS students,” she said. “With the transition to online learning, it is important to have services like this available to our students as they learn how to balance their workload along with other responsibilities.”

Brock’s Student Accessibility Services (SAS) team is also dedicated to fully supporting students’ mental health throughout the term, with most of the unit’s available supports making their way online.

“Student Accessibility Services continues to offer a full range of services to Brock students with disabilities through scheduled and drop-in case manager appointments, learning strategist sessions and assistive technology sessions, which are all completed in a virtual setting,” said SAS Operations Supervisor Scott Stevens. “The only exception to this is that the exam centre is running very limited in-person exams, restricted to those that are on campus for in-class lectures.”

One of the new SAS additions is the Mighty Call system, through which students can speak to a live operator Monday to Friday from 1 to 4 p.m. to have any questions answered that they might normally be able to ask at the front desk.

Stevens said Mighty Call allows students to access SAS services at a critical point in the academic year by dialling 905-688-5550 x3240.

“Around this time of year, we will see an uptick in students who wish to enrol in our services, as they may find they are struggling and want to put their accommodations in place,” he said.

With so many resources available, Pennisi hopes any student in need of assistance with their mental health will take action.

“Please reach out to us if you need anything or if you have a friend that could use our help — tell them about this article,” she said.

To learn more about the many mental health resources available at Brock, visit brockmentalhealth.ca or brocku.ca/swac

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