The Mental Health Review project was initiated in 2011 with the goal of improving student mental health and wellness services at University of Waterloo. Since the recommendations of the Mental Health Review were delivered to us in 2012 we have been working continuously on achieving them. Information about the Mental Health Review recommendations and Campus Wellness service metrics are available in our strategic report.
Here’s a summary of some initiatives and developments that resulted from the Mental Health Review:
- Health Services and Counselling Services were united under the leadership of the Director, Campus Wellness, allowing a collaborative and connected approach to mental health care between the two departments. Care was taken to ensure an organizational structure that allowed mental health clinicians to focus on the care of students with reduced administrative concerns.
- Staff hiring was enhanced to include additional counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists, intake specialists, and a mental health nurse. The addition of these positions helps deliver a comprehensive level of care for students.
- A better coordinated triage system for mental health concerns was developed for Health Services and Counselling Services to ensure both departments are delivering appropriate levels of care.
- We developed complimentary services like Coping Skills seminars and workshops on topics such as mindfulness, so that all students including those waiting for individual appointments can receive instruction on self-help strategies more quickly.
- We expanded the range of our services to include dedicated crisis appointments, walk-in hours, and single session therapy.
- We implemented a shared Electronic Health Record system to help our colleagues in both Health Services and Counselling Services share information confidentially and conveniently between departments and practitioners.
Director, Campus Wellness
Providing adequate and appropriate support for students with mental health concerns has become a significant challenge on many campuses across North America, including the University of Waterloo. This project was designed to review and assess the mental health and related services provided to students at uWaterloo. A primary focus of the review was the programs and services of three uWaterloo departments: Counselling Services (CS), Health Services (HS) and the Office for Persons with Disabilities (OPD).
…project team, (was) tasked with determining and understanding the mandates, operations, programs, processes, structure and outcomes of the primary wellness units. The project will identify current strengths of existing services as well as make realistic and implementable recommendations that improve support.” (Project Charter; Office of the Associate Provost, Students; June 1st, 2011)
All recommendations which emerged from this project complement a key aspiration stated in the UWaterloo Sixth Decade Plan of a commitment to “the highest quality teaching, research, scholarship and services which support the academic enterprise” and that the Institution will “excel in service to students (i.e., provide “one-stop service” to students where possible)”.