Photo by Kyle West
By: Rida Pasha
It is unsurprising that there is an increase in mental health issues among university students, especially here at McMaster University. Whether it is stress, relationships, family or work, there are numerous factors that can contribute to developing mental health issues.
While professional help is encouraged, such as therapy or counselling, these services can be very expensive for the average student.
Though McMaster prides itself on the mental health resources it provides, such as those at the Student Wellness Centre, it is commonly known that the university has much room for improvement.
One of the ongoing concerns at the SWC is the amount of time it takes to actually see a counsellor.
The lack of counsellors present at McMaster has been an issue for a while and though various students have advocated for the SWC to hire more counsellors in order to meet the demand, it is important that any counsellors hired reflect the student population at McMaster.
The university is home to various groups of people that come from diverse backgrounds and communities. Not only is it important for students to see more representation at the SWC, it is also important to acknowledge that many students feel more comfortable seeking help from counsellors that they can relate to.
For a university that is home to thousands of students of colour and members of the LGBTQA2S+ community, it is essential that the SWC hire more counsellors that are able to relate and provide a sense of understanding to these students’ struggles.
As someone who is an Indian immigrant that grew up in Canada, I personally would feel more prompted to seek counselling if I knew there were Asian professionals that had a similar background to mine.
I would feel more encouraged to discuss details of my life such as my culture and heritage, which is something that my counsellor could likely relate to without misunderstanding.
Additionally, as it can be difficult for international students to adjust to Canadian culture, they may wish to seek counselling. As it stands, there are not many services specified for international students concerning mental health and wellness.
If the SWC were to hire more counsellors aimed at improving the mental health of these international students, more students may be inclined to use their services to improve their mental health and overall experience at McMaster.
According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 34 per cent of Ontario high school students have indicated psychological distress on a moderate to serious level and these levels are only bound to increase during university.
Though McMaster has attempted to provide services aimed at improving mental health and wellness, it is time the university took active change.
It is vital that McMaster acts to not only increase the number of counsellors, but also to increase the diversity of counsellors available for the numerous groups of students who call McMaster home.