Since its inception in 2012, the Mental Health Steering Group has been reaching out to students, faculty and staff to find out how best to promote mental health and wellness at York. Several community members have called for increased awareness of resources available both on campus and in the community. Most just don’t know who to talk to or where to find the information to get help.
As part of Mental Health Awareness Month in February, students, staff and faculty are invited to learn more about the resources available to support their mental health and well-being.
Counselling, support and confidential referral services
One in five people report experiencing mental health problems at one point in their life, and even more go unreported. If you are struggling with high levels of stress, anxiety, panic, depression, interpersonal issues or other kinds of mental health problems, there are services available on and off campus to support you.
Several services are offered through Counselling & Disability Services (CDS), all of which are confidential and have no user fees. Personal Counselling Services (PCS), which is available to all currently enrolled York students, offers individual, couple and group counselling for a range of concerns, including depression, anxiety, abuse, stress, poor self-esteem, problematic eating, and issues related to sexuality and relationships. They also offer workshops on a number of topics related to success at university. Students who are in crisis can visit Personal Counselling Services in Room N110 of the Bennett Centre for Student Services between 9am and 4:30pm for immediate support (pcs.info.yorku.ca).
Learning Skills Services (LSS) at N110 Bennett Centre is also available to all York students and provides workshops as well as individual assistance in the development of learning skills (lss.info.yorku.ca). Disability Services provides academic supports for students with diagnosed learning, mental health, physical, sensory or medical disabilities (ds.info.yorku.ca).
Staff and faculty experiencing mental health difficulties have access to the Employee Wellbeing Office (EWO), located in the Kinsmen Building. Employee Wellbeing staff work with employees on a case-by-case basis to help them connect to appropriate supports. York staff can also access the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Offered by Shepell-fgi, the EAP offers free, confidential, short-term counselling and referral services to employees and their families 24 hours a day (yorku.ca/hr/units/employeerelations/ewb.html).
The York University Psychology Clinic (YUPC) is another great resource located on campus, and it is open to all York community members. This state of the art community mental health centre offers a range of services including individual, group, family and couples therapy, psychological assessments, and several other programs designed to help people of all ages lead healthy and productive lives (yorku.ca/yupc). These services are offered on a fee for service basis, although they are reimbursable through health plans that provide some type of coverage for psychological services.
If you are not quite sure whether you need help, or what kinds of supports are most appropriate for you, consider talking to someone on campus and asking for guidance. Visit your college office, the Centre for Student Community & Leadership Development (SCLD), the Atkinson Centre for Mature Students (ACMAPS), the Employee Wellbeing office, Trans Bi Lesbian Gay Allies at York (TBLGAY) or the Centre for Women and Trans People (CWTP). They can help you decide what options might be best for you and where to access appropriate supports.
Students can also call Good2Talk, a free, confidential and anonymous helpline providing professional counselling, information and referrals for mental health and well-being to post-secondary students. They can be reached 24/7 at 1-866-925-5454 (good2talk.ca) or through 211.
Other confidential community resources for all members of the York community include the Toronto Distress Centres at (416) 408-4357 or 408-HELP (torontodistresscentre.com) and the Connex Ontario Mental Health Helpline at 1-866-531-2600 (mentalhealthhelpline.ca).
If you can’t quite find what you need at York, there are also many resources available to you in the community. Visit yorku.ca/mentalhealth to find out more.
Supporting York community members in distress is certainly an important facet in promoting a mentally healthy campus, yet it is not enough. There is more to mental health than simply getting support when you are down, depressed or anxious. Mental health is also about caring for yourself on a day to day basis, so that you can handle the stresses of everyday life when they occur. This means staying active, eating well, giving yourself enough rest and downtime, socializing, and having fun! Physical, emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual, mental, cultural and environmental health and learning are interdependent.
How can York community members practice self-care while on campus? The Tait Mckenzie Centre (416-736-5185 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) offers a range of sport and recreational activities from swimming and squash courts to gyms fully stocked with cardio machines, weight machines and free weights. Staff can also take a yoga, pilates, cardio, strength and tone or zumba class over the lunch hour. Mindfulness meditation sessions facilitated by trained professionals at York can be accessed free of charge online and in person every day of the week (onthemind.ca). You can also purchase fresh local produce at low cost at York University’s Farmer’s market (see YFile article at yfile.news.yorku.ca/2013/10/22/farmers-market-starts-thursday-at-york/) without leaving campus!
In a commuter school of close to 60,000 students, faculty and staff, studying or working at York can sometimes be a very isolating experience. Yet staying connected with peers, family and friends, is a key factor in protecting against mental health difficulties and helping people feel good. York community members are encouraged to reach out and connect with others. With just under 500 student clubs on campus, and several employee organizations, there are many opportunities to network and develop healthy friendships.
York is committed to supporting the mental health and well-being of all students, faculty and staff. That means helping York community members get support when it is needed and fostering an environment where students, faculty and staff can access a variety of services to help them feel well on a regular basis. Members of the York community are encouraged to visit the mental health and wellness website at yorku.ca/mentalhealth to learn more about the resources available on and off campus.