Student Wellness Services introduces new model of care

Director of counselling services “confident” new system will provide quicker access to care

Student Wellness Services aims to combat wait times.
In response to a significant surge in students seeking care over the past five years, Student Wellness Services (SWS), will introduce a new model for counselling over the summer.
“We have listened to your feedback and have made changes that will result in shorter wait times and quicker access to care,” an announcement circulated in a School of Graduate Studies newsletter last month stated.
The new model will introduce half-hour “access appointments” for students who are seeking support for the first time, in which a clinician will focus on learning about the patient’s goals for treatment, meeting immediate needs, and making recommendations for next steps.
Next steps may include enrolment in group wellness programs and online learning modules, or helping patients connect with other healthcare providers in the Kingston community.
The announcement indicated these access appointments can be scheduled “as quickly as the same day you call.”
In a statement to The Journal, Dr. Rina Gupta, director of counselling services, confirmed the new model of care is “designed to provide quick access to services, and shorter wait times.”
“We are confident students will access care more quickly than under the previous model,” she said. “This model is in place at other institutions in Canada and the US, and students report high levels of satisfaction.”
The changes follow feedback detailing long wait times as a primary student concern, reported several times in The Journal over the last two years.
Interviewed in the spring of 2018, students seeking care reported long wait times and lack of access to quality care. In some cases, students were told they would have to wait 4 to 6 weeks for an appointment.
An annual Student Wellness Services report for 2017-18 revealed that wait times for appointments ranged from two to five weeks.
The report also revealed a 73 per cent increase in mental health appointments over the past five years, with the most commonly cited concerns including anxiety, depressed moods, and stress.
Additionally, the report shows that the counsellor or psychologist to student ratio was 1 to 1,225.
SWS is planning a “soft launch” of the new model during the summer, when fewer students are on campus, in order to maximize access to care and ensure a smooth transition into the new school year, according to Gupta.
“We are looking forward to implementing [this model] on our campus as part of the range of supports that are available to promote student wellbeing,” she added.

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