Queen’s will be receiving additional funding from the Ontario government to increase mental health resources for students.
The provincial government announced on Feb. 9 it would be investing an additional $7 million to increase mental health resources during the COVID-19 pandemic. Queen’s will be receiving approximately $195,800 to put toward mental health supports.
Conversations surrounding increasing mental health supports have dominated the Queen’ sphere this year, with emphasis on the University obtaining better resources to offer students during the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and BIPOC students.
READ MORE: Queen’s secures an increase of $258,000 in mental health funding
In a written statement to The Journal, Student Wellness Services (SWS) Executive Director Cynthia Gibney noted that, though the University is still in the process of determining how to use the funds, the extra funding will “certainly increase our capacity to meet student mental health needs.”
“[This] includes continued supports for our increasingly diverse population, whether that’s increasing staff resources or helping improve access to care through the implementation of online appointment booking,” Gibney said.
When asked about whether the University will be implementing measures recommended on behalf of the Instagram account ‘Reform Student Wellness’ and the petition launched by Queen’s Backing Action on Climate Change (QBACC), Gibney stressed the importance of student feedback.
“Feedback from our students is important to understanding where we can focus efforts to improve, and I welcome it,” she said. “I have met with @reformstudentwellness representatives and will continue to do so. I am also open to additional suggestions and feedback for improvement to the service.”
“There is a feedback form on the SWS website, and a survey is sent monthly to students who have used the service. I encourage students to use these channels to provide us with their input, or they can contact me directly.”
At the Feb. 4 AMS Assembly, Principal Patrick Deane said the University has been petitioning to increase mental health funding for students suffering from pandemic-related strains on mental wellness. Deane also noted that counselling for BIPOC students is a “critically important” issue on campus, and that the University has known since the summer that it needs to expand resources in this area.
Given the new funding, Gibney said SWS has expanded its efforts to better support the needs of
“All counselling staff are very committed to listening, learning, and responding to BIPOC voices and moving towards more specialized modes of support, and all SWS staff are trained regarding Black–racialized trauma,” she said.
Gibney also noted SWS has dedicated professionals who will work both one-on-one and in groups with racialized students, including Black and Indigenous students.
“This term there are facilitated monthly mental health discussions for Black students through Yellow House. The next online sessions are March 4 and April 1, and there are ongoing supports and programming facilitated by the cultural counsellor based with the Four Direction Indigenous Student Centre, as well as the cross-cultural advisor at Student Wellness Services who specializes in culturally-sensitive counselling for students from culturally and racially diverse backgrounds,” she said.
Mental health, Student Wellness Services
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