With the stressful winter-semester exam period coming to an end, some University of Winnipeg students have said they haven’t received adequate access to mental health resources on campus.
Students up against deadlines, exams and the pressure of securing summertime employment can be susceptible to stress and counselling services offered through the university are supposed to be readily available to students in need.
But U of W students Joey Dearborn and his roommate Stephan Day said the school turned them away from counselling because there was too much demand.
Dearborn waited four months to meet with an intake co-ordinator at the school's counselling department. When he got there, he was told to look elsewhere.
“They told me that the counsellor was too busy, that there is only one counsellor on campus and that they can’t see all the students,” said Dearborn.
Dearborn's roommate Stephan Day has an anxiety disorder.
Day waited a month to be told he would only receive help if it was an emergency.
'There’s a realization that we can’t be a health system as well as an education system.' - Jeremy Read, senior executive officer and advisor to Lloyd Axworthy
“I was asked if it was very important, if it was a crisis, and it wasn’t,” said Day. “So they said there wasn’t really a spot available in the foreseeable future, counsellor-wise.”
A U of W official said Dearborn and Day were caught in a transition and the school was in the process of hiring an intake co-ordinator at the time.
The intake co-ordinator now evaluates students within 48 hours and redirects many of them to off-campus resources.
“This is the kind of model that most universities are now looking at,” said Jeremy Read, senior executive officer and advisor to U of W president Lloyd Axworthy. “There’s a realization that we can’t, we can’t be a health system as well as an education system.”
But other universities have increased student counselling.
Many Canadian universities similar in size to the U of W have shorter wait times.
The University of Regina has three full-time counsellors; the longest wait is around three weeks.
Lakehead University officials said they have two counsellors with a two week wait period.
At Saint Mary's in Halifax, students wait a maximum of two and a half weeks.
“If they’re really focused on providing the best environment for their students, they could focus a little bit less on building capital and a little more on human capital,” said Dearborn.
Dearborn said he doesn't care for a plan that would send him off-campus.