Progress being made toward mental health initiatives for students, UW says
One year ago, the University of Waterloo made a commitment to improve mental health services on campus.
The initiative came after an alarming number of student suicides, especially around exam seasons.
For example, the university has hired more fulltime mental health professionals, enough for one for every thousand students.
Of the 36 recommendations given by a task force to the Committee on Student Mental Health, 72 per cent are in progress or complete.
“We set a two-year timeframe for the work of the committee on student mental health,” explains John Hirdes, the chair of the committee. “We’ve had tangible things put in place like new training programs increased information about practical things that we can do.”
President of the Federation of Students Richard Wu says there are more accommodations to have counsellors aware of individual needs, especially when it comes to culture and language.
“Sometimes students may not be comfortable speaking about specific issues if the particular counsellor isn’t necessarily sensitive to it,” he says.
For new students on campus, it seems to be making an impression.
Tammy Khalaf is a first year student who has noticed the efforts.
“I remember getting a lot of pamphlets and resources during my orientation week letting us know about the mental health resources that are available around campus,” she says.
Some of the recommendations that are pending or in progress are more complex than others. The committee says it’s working to implement them all.