Wellness Education Centre

The first week of October was Wellness week but if this is news to you, you’re not alone. With the recent opening of the Wellness Education Centre in the UCC, there have been many events to promote resources for physical and mental well being. The issue now is whether or not these resources are being advertised well enough on campus.

First-year engineer student Farah Selim doesn’t know what the centre is or that they hosted an awareness week. She wishes she had been better informed so that she could have been able to participate.

Other students are disappointed that the events only lasted for one week. Tina Lin, second-year neuroscience student, was aware of the therapy dog visits, free massages and mindfulness activities that took place, but was unable to attend due to her schedule. She says that if the centre offered more frequent events, she would definitely attend.

“I know that there are resources available but when it comes to more serious problems like depression, I think it’s lacking a little,” Lin admits. “I know a lot of people who are struggling with mental illness and if they want to see a psychiatrist they have to wait a long time.”

The time-consuming wait list for resources has been an issue for some time now, but as PhD student and wellness coordinator at the wellness education centre Melanie-Anne Atkins explains, it is something the centre is working to remedy this year.

Atkins and a team of volunteers have been working for the past eight months to update resources on their website, and provide opportunities for students to take practical steps toward improving mental health.

“Last year it was really sad to see that students were kind of falling through the cracks and not being able to access resources,” says Atkins.

She says that while the general upset around limited resources for students last year was upsetting, it at least demonstrated that wellness is something frequently on student’s minds.

“I think that it showed how passionate people were about having access to good care,” Atkins explains. “If students didn’t care about it, it wouldn’t have gained as much traction as it did. So it proves that students really do care about mental health and they do want it to stay an issue,” she adds.

Some students are still unaware of the center’s growing resources, but peer wellness educator, Richard Truong, suggests that those who need support are the ones actively seeking it out and finding it.

Truong says that it’s been exciting to see that students are coming in looking for resources and taking initiative to help themselves. He’s noticed the most popular requests are nutrition services with their dietician and psychological services.

"The Wellness Education Centre does refer individuals to drop-in counselling, which is a great addition to psychological services," Truong says. "This is because when I wanted to see a psychologist 3 years ago, I had to be put on a waiting list. Therefore, it's amazing that students can get help immediately."

“We know many other resources that students can go to that address their needs or that can act as an in-between time if they’re waiting to get an appointment for a psychologist,” he explains. “That way they can always be active and proactive with their wellness now.”

Navigating resources on campus can be tricky but the Wellness Education Center is trying to light the way. With mental health awareness gaining more exposure, only time will tell if students will take advantage of these new programs and seek help as needed.

The WEC website can be accessed at http://se.uwo.ca/wec.html

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Culture Editor

Amy is a second year English and Visual Arts student in Western's faculty of Arts and Humanities. This is her first year as a culture editor at the Gazette. For comments or feedback, email her at amy.skodak@westerngazette.ca.

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