Mental health services at university and college are sisters, not twins

Post-secondary schools Memorial University of Newfoundland and College of the North Atlantic mental health and wellness services differ.

Mental health CNA MUN
Memorial’s Wellness Centre and College of the North of Atlantic counselling offices differ in size. However, they use similar techniques when diffusing student issues. Rebecca Blake/Kicker

Rebecca Blake
Kicker News

Assignments, homesickness and anxiety are all the things counsellors of post-secondary schools help their students with, but how they do so differs.

Memorial University of Newfoundland and College of the North Atlantic have mental wellness programs to keep students healthy. The two government-funded mental health services differ by accessibility, quality and services provided to students.

Tara Thomas is a counsellor at the college’s Prince Phillip Drive campus.

“I think things are going to change in the next little while because of the recent events,” said Thomas.“I think the college did a really good job with their response to the lockdown.”

In 2016, CBC published an article about a lockdown at Memorial University. Some students felt the administration wasn’t communicating well enough with them.

This was mirrored during the lockdown Oct. 12 at the college’s Prince Phillip Drive campus. It was the second Friday in three weeks that saw a threat shutdown the college.

After the lockdowns, students were frustrated.

Jacob DeVeaux, a business administration student, says he couldn’t pass in an assignment because of the bomb threat.

Lockdowns aren’t the only risk to students’ mental health – stress from class load and homesickness can pile up into anxiety and panic attacks. In cases like this, Thomas says the college practices grounding exercises.

Mental Health
MUN has several initiatives to promote good mental health– from counselling to therapy Dogs. CNA follows suit, except on a smaller scale. Rebecca Blake/Kicker

The range of services available to alleviate stress vary from campus to campus. At the college’s Prince Phillip campus, students can receive counselling for mental health, careers or to simply vent.

However, the office on the second floor of the campus refers students with severe cases to outside therapists.

The wellness center on the fifth floor of the University Centre at Memorial feels like a dentist’s office.

The Memorial Wellness Centre offers similar counselling as the college does, often referring students in crisis to outside sources such as the Waterford Crisis Line.

The amount of resources affects accessibility. At the college’s Prince Phillip Drive campus, there are three counsellors. At university’s Wellness Centre, there are 18 health-service providers.

Memorial has twice as many students as the college. The college’s approximately 9,000 students are spread across 17 campuses staffed by 18 guidance counsellors.

Memorial nursing student, Rebecca Martin, hasn’t used the Wellness Centre’s service yet. She says she is too busy with work.

“Their crisis management team is remarkable,” said Martin.

For help with a mental health issue, consult a counsellor near you or call 1-800-709-2929.

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