Health and wellness supports at Waterloo you should know about

Waterloo student reading mental health brochure.

Naomi Written by Naomi (she/her), student

Your mental health and your physical health are incredibly important, and your overall well-being should be made a priority. Whether you need physical care or mental health support, Waterloo offers resources that are easily accessible for those that need them.

I graduated high school during what could be considered the worst time to be a student – right in the middle of the pandemic. With that came isolation, a robbed social-life, and anxiety about starting university. The aftermath of all those factors hit me hard. As a result, my mental health began to suffer, not to mention my fear of getting sick spiked through the roof. I was struggling, and I knew I needed to seek help.

What originally seemed like bad timing to start my undergrad turned out to be great timing. At Waterloo, students like me have access to tons of health and wellness services that I never would’ve known about if I had put off my education. Becoming part of a connected, positive community that strives to ensure people are healthy and happy was exactly the kind of environment that I needed to continue thriving. Whether you need physical care or mental health support, Waterloo has resources offered by both staff and fellow students that are easily accessible for any challenges you may be facing.

Campus Wellness

A healthy and happy atmosphere is the most important feature of any community, and Campus Wellness exists to maintain just that. Committed to helping students at Waterloo, there are professionals available to provide medical care and mental health services while using a safe and respectful approach. You can connect with them directly, or you can attend workshops and seminars that are designed to enhance and support your well-being.

Health Services

Health services professional giving Waterloo student an examination.

Getting the physical care you need can sometimes be difficult, especially if you don’t know where to look. The Student Medical Clinic is one of the many ways students have access to professional, primary medical care. Putting students first, the clinic works to limit out-of-pocket expenses to ensure that students are healthy and looked after.

From nurse practitioners to physicians, to STI testing, to pregnancy and birth control services, the Student Medical Clinic offers support in a range of ways. Simply book an appointment and let them know what you need! Gender affirming care is available as well, to serve trans and non-binary student’s health needs. Plus, there’s a pharmacy on campus if you need prescriptions filled.

One of the services I’ve used frequently is the student medical insurance plan, which provides extended health care coverage for important services that aren’t covered by your basic health plan. This includes dental care, vision care, travel health coverage, and more.

Mental health support

Waterloo student standing at front desk in health clinic.

Mental health isn’t always an easy topic to discuss and sometimes it’s difficult to find a safe space where you feel comfortable opening up. At Waterloo, creating and maintaining these safe spaces is not only a goal but a priority. The Counselling Services team gives you access to psychologists, registered social workers and counsellors. With a referral from a Health Services physician, you can schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist in the Mental Health Office.

Whether you prefer to book one-on-one therapy for an individual appointment, or you feel more comfortable participating in group therapy and workshops, there are services and courses to equip you with the skills to cope with life’s challenges. Appointments are free for Waterloo students and can be booked with the Counselling Services team or through the Mental Health Office. There’s also an option to request a counsellor with a specific lived experience or identity, to make sure that you’re at your utmost comfort level. However, if you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone at school, there are always other options.

When I reached out for help with my mental health, I learned more about Studentcare, our medical insurance plan, which provides amazing health benefits that I would never have been able to afford. I was able to attend counselling sessions outside of school, with coverage from my student insurance to help offset the cost. The hardest part is reaching out, but once you do, you'll find a supportive and willing community committed to providing a safe space for you every step of the way.

Health promotion

Three Waterloo students wearing orange t-shirts standing outdoors in park setting.

Staff at Waterloo aren’t the only ones interested in health and wellness – it’s something that’s embedded in every aspect of our community, and students help demonstrate this in their Health Promotion efforts as well.

There’s a variety of campus initiatives that promote positive health, such as the Wellness Collaborative. This community takes a preventative approach to health, addressing and supporting the well-being of students in all facets of university. They’ve launched a mental health literacy program to train faculty and staff with the skills to identify and respond to those with mental health concerns, ensuring that everyone is educated and supportive. Educative efforts don’t stop there; there’s also Peer Health Education, a program with student volunteers that provides health education in a peer-to-peer approach. Active on social media, they talk about topics such as mental health, sexual health, substance misuse, active living, and healthy eating, just to name a few.

In the Fall, Waterloo also has a month-long event called Thrive, which focuses on building a culture of well-being and normalizing mental health struggles for Waterloo students and employees. They have workshops, art showcases, and student mental health research conferences, which all work toward building an inclusive and supportive campus for students to truly thrive in.

Another group that advocates for a healthy well-being is the Environment Student Society (ESS). The Mental Health and Wellness Director for ESS, Matthew, says his role is “both important and rewarding; having a positive impact on student life is a top priority. Our team is dedicated to providing students with the best support we can, and we hope to maintain a mindful and healthy environment on campus”. On their Instagram page, they post about important mental health topics and strategies, and actively work to connect with students and reduce social isolation!

Prioritize yourself

My therapist's favourite phrase to say to me is: “you matter”. Although it’s a simple phrase, one that might seem obvious, it still resonates with me. Sometimes we get too caught up in life to take a moment and focus on ourselves. Even the basic things – drinking enough water, eating healthy, getting enough sleep – we neglect them, and in turn we neglect ourselves. Sometimes, we all fall into bad habits, and forget that we truly do matter.

Your mental health and your physical health are incredibly important, and your overall well-being is a priority at Waterloo. Goals and efforts to enhance mental health and foster self-care are prominent ones, and there’s help when you need it. Pandemic or not, these health and wellness services will always be in place, because a happy and healthy community is one that can rely on each other, grow, and succeed together.