Students seek alternative counselling times

Options available for students who can’t make it to HCDS during office hours, Director Mike Condra says

In addition to the LaSalle location
Image by: Terence Wong
In addition to the LaSalle location

Accessing Health, Counselling and Disability Services (HCDS) can be difficult for students whose schedules prevent them from visiting during office hours, but Director Mike Condra said it doesn’t have to be this way.

Some students, such as those in the School of Nursing, work long hours for several days in a row, meaning that they’re unable to attend counselling and other appointments while HCDS is open during regular hours.

Condra said he wasn’t aware of the problem until recently.

“It came up in a class I was teaching in nursing,” he said.

Health services are open two nights a week, but the hours for counselling and disability services are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday.

Condra said students in this position are advised to contact HCDS to make alternate arrangements.

“What I would recommend is just to call and leave a voicemail and one of us here will call you back and try to work out a schedule,” he said.

The counselling service used to be open some evenings, he noted, but the evening appointments weren’t very popular.

Condra said HCDS also has a counsellor present in the JDUC whose schedule can be flexible.

“Our counsellor in the JDUC can sometimes see students in the evening or the weekends,” he said.

One of HCDS’ counsellors is responsible for maintaining an up-to-date list of community resources for students who chose to go that route, Condra said.

“All of our counsellors have access to that information.”

Condra said he’s supportive of the idea proposed by the Principal’s Commission on Mental Health to implement faculty-based, or “hub-and-spoke,” counselling.

With this model, HCDS counsellors would be housed in the various faculties; a similar system is already in place for Commerce, and the Faculty of Law and School of Medicine each have advisers offering academic and non-academic support on staff.

“I definitely think that would be a very good idea,” Condra said.

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