Engineering wellness centre opens

The Queen’s Engineering Wellness Center offers mental health resources to engineering and applied science students

The centre opened in February so it could become a part of the engineering culture, say founders

For the first time, engineering students have access to faculty-specific mental health facilities.

The Queen’s Engineering Wellness Centre (EWC), which opened at the start of February, provides engineering students with student-run mental health resources. The centre offers Lego, colouring books and other arts and crafts, and students are welcome to relax on the couches to decompress.

The EWC was proposed by the centre’s co-founders and current head managers, Kirsten MacMillan and Mohga Koshty, both Sci ’17.

Koshty said the centre was created to combat the work-hard, play-hard engineering stereotypes.

“Everyone has in their head what they feel [the typical] engineer should be,” Koshty said. She and MacMillan hope that the EWC will help engineering students who feel they don’t fit the stereotypes.

MacMillan added that she and Koshty wanted to create “a middle ground between having a really serious conversation and being cooped up in the library all day.” The two first spoke with Kimberly Woodhouse, dean of engineering and applied science, to realize their idea. Dean Woodhouse supported the idea from the start, according to MacMillan.

Koshty said the two founders spent the whole of last year pitching the idea to various Queen’s members, from health counselling and disability services, now student wellness services, members to various applied science faculty members, after they spoke with Dean Woodhouse and received her approval.

This year, the two founders hired staff in October and trained them to discuss mental health issues and provide a judgment-free environment until the centre opened in February.

The EWC’s location in Jackson Hall — across from Clark Hall — takes it away from the hustle and bustle of projects and assignments. Its location avoids making engineering students feel awkward when seeking a safe atmosphere, a problem that could have arisen if it were located in the International Learning Centre, MacMillan said.

The centre is staffed by 15 employees in their second, third and fourth years of study in engineering and applied science. Jordan Solomon, Sci ’16, is one of those employees.

“Some people want a sounding board to get all their ideas out and to feel heard instead of just rambling on to someone who might zone out,” he said.

“Most just want a place they can come and play with Lego or colour.”

Since the EWC opened, the managers and wellness supporters — a term used for the centre’s employees — said they’ve found that many engineering students are thankful to have a space like the centre available.

The centre opened in February so it could become a part of the engineering culture, MacMillan said. Staff at the centre encourage students to drop by anytime, even for 15 minutes, so they’ll get a sense of the place and feel comfortable visiting the centre.

Located in room 208 in Jackson Hall, the EWC is open Monday to Thursday 5 to 9:30 p.m. and on Sundays from 3:30 to 8 p.m.

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