The Wellness Centre at Conestoga College might prove to be the right place for students facing mental health issues.
It provides services in different departments but in terms of mental health care, the help and support are provided by the fellow students themselves. Breathing Space can be considered as one of the examples. It is a quiet place where students can gather for a break, relax and have a conversation with student wellness representatives to deal with mental health issues.
Sonia Singhania, a wellness representative at the Downtown Kitchener campus, says one of the most common reasons why students face mental health problems is because they feel “isolated and find it hard to get used to the new places.”
“It is hard for them to get accustomed to the culture, the changing environment, and people. Being away from their families and getting to know new people. It’s difficult.” Singhania says.
She further describes that this situation is not only faced by international students but domestic students as well and suggests some possible solutions that could benefit them.
“There are times when they speak to us about time management and how to have their work and assignments done properly. Managing the way, you do your work is the key. Take out 30 minutes for a thing that you enjoy the most,” Singhania says.
With providing stress relief and medical care for students the wellness centre also provides counselling service platforms such as Good2talk. It is a 24-hour online mental health service spread across Ontario.
Abby Walker, Good2talk’s outreach lead says the organization shares a very good relationship with Conestoga College and gets a lot of engagement from students.
“We have students from Conestoga College that reach out to us. It is very nice to see that. They can call or text about any issue! It can be a big one or a tiny one. Our team is trained and will provide relevant support to post-secondary students.” Walker said.
According to August 2023 data provided by Kids Help Phone, an online mental help service in partnership with Good2talk, more than 20% of people in Ontario have suffered from mental health problems. They were between 18-24 years. More than 40% of Ontarians discussed anxiety and relationship issues with counsellor experts.
Walker further said that Good2talk’s professional counsellors are provided by Kids Help Phone, which is why “there’s a lot of stigma attached to it.” Students have a wrong belief that the service is limited to kids.
“We don’t necessarily say it right off the gate. They wouldn’t wanna reach out to a service that they think might be for kids,” Walker said.