By: Alex Bak
Mental health is a topic that has gained a lot of attention at McMaster. The recent push in initiatives and the sheer number of advocacy campaigns have made it the most relevant topic at the university.
The dialogue started by students and staff about the stigma of mental health issues swelled and increased awareness around the topic. However, an issue arises cloaked by all the buzz, as there is still a lack of mental health support services on campus that adequately support students who are suffering from mental illness.
While some student-run services, such as the Student Health Education Centre and the Women Gender and Equity Network have peer-support volunteers, McMaster should consider hiring more trained counsellors equipped to deal with these illnesses. These are the installments students need to combat these issues, but it is presently lacking on campus.
For students who trust these student-run services, it may be worth considering hiring trained employees with the appropriate qualifications on campus that these volunteer-run services can refer to when student’s mental health is detrimental or comprised.
For many students, having to wait months for an available appointment doesn’t fit the temporal needs of counselling as mental health issues can become increasingly worse in a short period.
In addition, for many students, having to wait months for an available appointment doesn’t fit the temporal needs of counselling as mental health issues can become increasingly worse in a short period.
The Student Wellness Centre is a location for mental health issues on campus and having an inadequate supply of staff for the volume of demand is a problem that is clouded behind the animated awareness campaigns, discussions and forums. Especially when students who have accessibility issues are asked to provide evidence of their mental illnesses to find academic support in services such as Student Accessibility Services, mental health is compromised for students who are seeking help but are having trouble finding it on campus.
A factor that plays into the concern for mental health awareness and services with adequate support is the lack of advertisement of the existing support services. For students who may not be as involved in school related events or co-curricular activities, it may be hard to even be aware that certain services are present on campus. Especially for students with symptoms of isolation due to state of mental health, it makes it difficult to cater to a large student body if students if there is little knowledge due to lack of awareness for mental health support.
Mental health is still a subject that is sensitive and an issue that is often misunderstood even though it has made great strides compared to the past. The tireless efforts made by local student groups and organizations to increase dialogue needs to be complemented by the implementation of the hiring of more mental health support staff or counsellors and advisors appropriately prepared to handle these issues. This could then work to destigmatize the issues around mental health and ensure that students are receiving the support that they need on campus.