"We need to prioritize mental health as a form of health care and give it the importance that it deserves. We are amidst a mental health crisis; we need to use reactionary and proactive measures to support students amidst their academic journey. All of these points will be formalized as recommendations through the Mental Health & Wellness Advisory Committee, in conjunction with the Director of Health, Safety & Wellbeing and Director of Health & Wellness."
how do we do it?
Centralization of Resources
Students need to know where to turn when they are seeking resources. The MyWellness Platform is an amazing resource to connect students with the appropriate care. We need all the mental health resources, including MyWellness, to be made available to students on an OWL page which every student would be added to. The University should provide links to current staff and student OWL mental health modules on the OWL homepage to ensure that they are easily accessible to everyone.
Booking an appointment to get help is a daunting task for many students, it becomes even more difficult when students need to decipher which services are for crisis support and which are for general wellness. Western should commit to one centralized online appointment booking platform which would make it easier for students to obtain an appointment. Additionally, Western should clarify which mental health service offerings are available specifically for students in crisis and which ones are available to students looking to take proactive measures to promote mental wellbeing.
Culturally Competent Mental Health
QT-BIPOC students and International students have distinct needs when it comes to mental health services. The MyWellness platform allows students to pick and choose a therapist that works for them, I would like to advocate for bios to be added to the platform so students can choose someone that can address their specific needs. I would also like to see the Western Mental Health Counsellors be available on the MyWellness Platform.
Student data surrounding satisfaction with services should be collected. This data will allow the institution to make tangible changes in accordance with what resources work for students. Demographic and ethnographic data should also be collected to lay the foundation for building structures that support marginalized communities.
Bridge Affiliate Students to Main Campus Resources
Considering that Affiliate students do not have the same access to mental health resources, there need to be ways to bridge Affiliate students to the resources on Main Campus. In order to facilitate the bridging, I would seek the collaboration of the HBK Presidents and corresponding VPs and together we would be able to organize Mental Health pop-ups at Affiliate campuses once a semester. These would be done with the intention of incentivizing students to utilize the main campus resources.