Canadian higher ed institutions are facing a sudden increase in student demand for mental health services, Peter Goffin writes for The Record.
The challenges are similar to those at American institutions. In recent years, the demand for student counseling services on American campuses has skyrocketed, and colleges have struggled to keep up. Although young adults list mental health as a top concern, many do not know how to access the resources available to them or feel limited by what is available.
Likewise, students on Canadian campuses have been seeking mental health services at record numbers, Goffin reports. Because of this, students are often referred by campus officials to off-campus services, he writes.
However, students can face gaps in care, longer weight times, and greater costs when transitioning to off-campus facilities, Goffin writes. And students say it can be intimidating to venture into unfamiliar neighborhoods in the city to access off-campus providers.
Instead, students say they'd like universities to provide more support during the transition to an off-campus provider. For example, universities could help students book their first off-campus appointment, says Alicia Raimundo, a 2012 grad who serves as a peer support provider at Stella's Place, a Toronto-based mental health organization. Or universities could invite off-campus counselors to visit the campus regularly, suggests Taryn MacDonald, a recent grad of a Canadian university.
The first step is building strong partnerships with those off-campus providers, says Erik Labrosse, director of student life at Laurentian University. "(We must) be knowledgeable about the services, understand what the waiting times are and make sure that we're giving good advice and making good referrals to the community," he says (Goffin, The Record, 8/13).
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