UNBSJ offering students 24/7 mental health services
'I really liked the program. I think it's really great'
Ashley Cook says a program aimed at getting University of New Brunswick Saint John students in touch with mental health experts faster is already showing results.
The executive member of the students' representative council knows because she's one of the beneficiaries of the program.
"I really liked the program," said Cook. "I think it's really great.
"It was really quick and easy for me to get a counselling appointment and I found my counsellor's been really great."
The school partnered with a platform called Real Campus to gives students access to 24/7 mental health support.
The program helps students get appointments with therapists and counsellors, but also offers a helpline to provide support whenever needed along with other resources to better assist with non-urgent mental health care.
"They offer immediate virtual support to students experiencing a mental health challenge, but can also set those students up with in-person counselling here in the city as a followup," Sheldon MacLeod, UNBSJ's director of student services, said in a press release.
Cook said before the introduction of Real Campus last fall the university was having difficulty keeping up with the demand for mental health resources.
"There's a high demand for counselling on campus," said Cook. "It was really hard for students to get access to it.
"So having this program implemented … it took the burden away from counsellors on campus, but also … allowed students sort of more options."
Cook said the service was really fast for her and that she was able to get in to see a counsellor on a Monday after reaching out the previous Wednesday.
Universities across the country have been dealing with a number of mental health issues recently.
At the University of Ottawa, five students have taken their lives since January 2019.
The 2019 National College Health Assessment reported that 10 per cent of post-secondary students had contemplated suicide in the past year and 1.9 per cent had attempted suicide.
Meanwhile, a report by counselling services at UNB indicated that of all the students that come to them for mental health issues, 50 per cent have suicidal thoughts.
Cook said mental health is a big issue on campus at UNBSJ.
"It's a pretty big issue at the health centre.… Most cases are mental health related. A lot of students go there for mental health issues," said Cook.
"A lot of students are stressed out and going through stuff."
Where to get help
Canada Suicide Prevention Service:
In French: Association québécoise de prévention du suicide: 866-APPELLE (866-277-3553)
Kids Help Phone:
Text: TALK to 686868 (English) or TEXTO to 686868 (French)
Live Chat counselling at www.kidshelpphone.ca
Post-Secondary Student Helpline: