Student Wellness Services diversifies care options

Changes include addition of new staff member and increased options for CBT 

Student Advisory Committee continues to help identify gaps in student wellness.   
Student Wellness Services (SWS) is expanding its services with the hiring of a new clinical practitioner and a partnership with the Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences, alongside continued guidance from the Student Advisory Committee established last spring.
Hiring of Nurse Practitioner
Roger Pilon, NP-PHC, joined the SWS team as their first nurse practitioner (NP) in February. He runs a weekly clinic in Mitchell Hall’s Côté Sharp Wellness Centre.
Pilon can provide diagnoses, order tests, refer to specialists, and prescribe some medications to students. 
“I have the honour and privilege of being the first PHC-NP to be employed at SWS. This will provide me with the opportunity to showcase the PHC-NP role and scope of practice,” Pilon wrote in a statement to The Journal. 
“The addition of an NP to the team will further increase student’s access to primary health care services right here on campus.”
Pilon, whose professional background and research has focused on primary healthcare and type 2 diabetes treatment in Indigenous and northern communities, will also offer clinical placement opportunities to Queen’s University PHC-NP program students. 
“I am a strong believer and advocate for interprofessional education and interdisciplinary teams. I have been involved in NP education for over 24 years. The SWS will provide me with the opportunity to practice in yet another primary health care model.”
Agreement with Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences
SWS has also signed a new partnership with the Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences, which will expand students’ options for mental health services on campus.
“The agreement with Ontario Shores will provide Queen’s students with access to a publicly funded, evidence-based cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT] program. CBT can help students improve their ability to deal with anxiety and depression,” Amber McCart, Senior Clinician and Manager in Student Wellness Services’ Mental Health division, wrote in a statement to The Journal.
Although Ontario Shores’ services are currently only available by referral to Queen’s Students, SWS hopes to have an on-site counselor by the 2022-23 academic year.
“We will continue to grow our relationships with regional health care providers like Ontario Shores to help meet the complex needs of many of our students,” McCart said.
Updates from Student Advisory Committee
The committee, consisting of representatives from SWS, AMS, SGPS, and Queen’s Student Accessibility Services (QSAS), was formed to improve SWS’ transparency, outreach, and communication. 
“The committee serves as a regular forum where student experiences, ideas and feedback are discussed, information is shared, and the impacts of student wellbeing on the overall student experiences are talked about,” Cynthia Gibney, Executive Director of SWS, wrote in an email sent to The Journal.
“The committee helps us respond to emerging needs, share best practices in outreach and care for students, and address any concerns that students bring forward with respect to service delivery.”
Since its establishment, the Committee has formed its mission and mandate, discussed ideas for improving SWS services, answered student queries, and explored methods of improving student awareness of SWS services.
The committee has also helped SWS identify wellness needs and resources available for 2SLGBTQ+ students, students who have experienced sexual or gender-based violence, and students of colour in collaboration with many other university and city organizations.
“The [Student Advisory Committee] is very much valued by Student Wellness Services, and we are grateful to all our student members for the time and input,” Gibney said. 
“Based on student members’ ideas and advice, we will be making efforts to broaden the reach of our call for new student members to help ensure continued diversity of opinions and perspectives on the committee.”

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