Different groups at Western have partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) to offer after-hours crisis counselling during finals season: Western Student Health Services (SHS), the University Students' Council (USC), Society of Graduate Students (SOGS).
The pilot program introduced last semester received a positive response from Western students.
Jamie Cleary, USC vice-president, said that students who weren’t using the service for themselves have also been supportive of this initiative to provide help on campus.
“While it’s meant to be for students who are stressed or anxious for exams, we actually noticed last year that students were presenting for a variety of reasons,” explained Cleary. “So it’s really open to anybody who’s needing somebody to talk to.”
The project was first implemented last semester with the walk-in service being offered for five weeks and saw almost 70 students. With Western’s psychological services closing at 4 p.m. every day, CMHA’s services will provide students an opportunity to see a counsellor after hours as it will be available until 9 p.m.
Based on the program’s initial success, the USC and CMHA have completed and submitted a grant application to the London community. According to Cleary, the USC and CMHA have identified this service as a year-round need and are hoping to obtain funding to offer the service to students on a long-term basis over the next three years.
Previously offered at the Peer Support Centre, the CMHA crisis counselling will be offered at SHS this semester on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
“Since these are pilot projects and we’re looking for grant funding, we want to see what would be the most successful location in where we’re able to serve the most students,” said Cleary.
The service typically has two trained crisis counsellors on duty. If necessary, the counsellors will also refer students to additional support services in the community or on campus to make sure that they are getting the help they need.
CMHA after-hours drop-in crisis counselling will be available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Student Health Services until April 20, 2017.