Ryerson addresses secondary wait times for student counselling


Ryerson’s tackling what it describes as a secondary wait list challenge this term.

The Centre for Student Development and Counselling (CSDC) says it has made some significant improvements recently regarding the initial wait times students face when reaching out for help.

And now it’s working on what it calls its “wait 2” list.  

Graphic by Maria Figueredo Gongora

Allan MacDonald, director of student health and wellness at Ryerson, says the centre is making its second wait time a priority.  The second wait time refers to the amount of time students must wait before seeing a counsellor one-on-one unless they need immediate attention.

MacDonald says that although the centre is happy with the efforts made towards improving wait times for initial appointments, the wait to start therapy on a regular basis after being assessed is more or less the same as it was in 2015. “The wait is no worse, but no better than before,” he says.

He underlines the improvement on the so-called “Wait list 1.”

“‘Wait one’ is dramatically different. Changes have been made,” MacDonald says.  “Sixty per cent of students have been able to access care within 24 hours and the other 40 per cent in two weeks or less,” says MacDonald.

And the number of students turning to the CSDC for help continues to increase. According to the centre, student visits have increased by 11 per cent in the past year.

Centre for Student Development and Counselling (Peter Lozinski/Ryersonian file photo)


In a December 2015 article, the Ryersonian reported that students labelled “crisis” were waiting a week and “priority” students were waiting two to three weeks to meet with someone. Students were waiting too long in this this so-called “wait 1” list.

When a student visits the counselling centre for the first time, the centre assesses the student’s needs. This second wait time is dependent on how urgent the counsellors deem the student’s situation to be.  At the same time, “routine” students were waiting for a month at the very least.  

At the time, Sarah Thompson, clinical co-ordinator of the CSDC, told the Ryersonian that students without immediate concerns were waiting between three to six months for one-on-one therapy.

Now, Thompson confirms that the centre will be initiating work on improving “wait 2” for these students in the spring and summer. “We’re currently in the active ideation phase, specifically at this point beginning to better understand how students experience health and well-being services as a whole.”
MacDonald notes other recent improvements including the addition of two new full-time counsellors and a few interns. “We now are starting to get a much better sense of how students are doing during the first appointment,” he says.

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