Ryerson’s Centre for Student Development and Counselling is reorganizing its mental health services to directly meet the needs of students by providing same -day consultations and tackling long wait times.
Last year, president Mohamed Lachemi noted that there was a push for more funding for mental health resources on campus.
“We know that many of our students are faced with this challenge of societal problems. It is not something that is new and we have to address it,” he said in an interview.
Now, the CSDC is using its increased funds approved in Ryerson’s 2016-17 budget on some new initiatives. Since mid-September, the CSDC has been running a pilot program where it has been increasing the number of same-day consultations. Group therapy sessions are also offered in the second part of the program.
“It’s a commitment and the progress report this semester is already showing success,” said Lachemi. “Same time last year you used to have about 30 cases and we’ve more than doubled this year. We have 71 cases, so you can see that we’ve already improved.”
Sarah Thompson, clinical co-ordinator at the CSDC, noted that the slow launch was important to get the basics in place for the program to function smoothly.
“Our system is now tweaked to handle this new flow of students into our centre and this program will continue throughout the year,” said Thompson.
In a semi-annual CSDC feedback survey, students indicated that the number 1 issue is long wait times. Ryerson students will now have less of a wait because the program is also funding two new counsellors.
Thompson noted that with the addition of more resources, time and new counsellors, students can now “get their foot in the door faster.”
Another upcoming program that Thompson says students should look out for is the WellTrack program. The WellTrack program is an online, self-directed program for students who prefer to work on mental health services at their own pace. All Ryerson students will soon have access to this program, which can assist with depression, anxiety and stress management.
What students can expect?
Students can expect to receive an initial 50-minute private counselling session to determine what type of support they need.
“We want to invite a student in (our office) and really listen, we want that student to be heard,” says Thompson. “We want to identity what’s the main reason for students coming in.”
The next step will include creating a custom and unique care plan for each student.
What services are offered?
The program offers private or group counselling sessions, and referrals to other centres if students already have insurance plans outside the university.
Wait times for the private sessions range from same-day appointments to 24 hours. Private sessions take place from Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Thompson said that if students come later in the day, they may be asked to come back the next day and make an appointment for 10 a.m. because spots may already be filled up.
“Our goal in creating this care plan is to match the student with the resources that would be more helpful, given their concern,” says Thompson. “But also give them the level of intensity services they want.”
Weekly drop-in group sessions are also available to students in a “non-crisis.” These session are typically for 10 to 12 students. For students who may need more in-depth counselling, the program offers close group therapy sessions. These sessions will begin in October and February. They will run for about four to 10 weeks.
One-to-one counselling is also offered.