Peer Connect Line eliminated as part of Students’ Union re-evaluation of services

Changes to Peer Connect come as a result of the line’s place on campus with various mental health resources

Graphic by Fani Hsieh

Graphic by Fani Hsieh

With the conversation on mental health more in the spotlight than ever before, Peer Connect has been making changes within their services to better suit the Wilfrid Laurier University community, with the most recent being the elimination of their telephone line.

Kaipa Bharucha, vice-president of programming and services for the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union, said the change came about regarding the line’s place on campus with several mental health resources now available for students.

“What we did this year was a re-evaluation of both parts of our service. Going into this year we knew that there were going to be some changes. Just in terms of what services they were offering and whether they were meeting what services students needed on campus,” said Bharucha.  

“When the line started, it was at a time when there weren’t similar resources in the K-W area. Since then there have been a lot of good professional services on campus and we found that we weren’t representing those as well as we could have been.”

Services offered on campus and in the Kitchener-Waterloo community have been steadily expanding within the last few years, especially with the addition of the mental health services offered at the Wellness Centre on campus.

“The Student Wellness Centre (formerly known as Health and Counselling Services) is a multi-disciplinary clinic that provides mental and physical health care to students at Laurier,” said Wellness Centre director Karen Ostrander via email.

“Our team includes counsellors (with master’s level training), family physicians, a mental health nurse and a case manager as well as other allied health professionals.”

With additional community services such as two 24/7 helplines, Here 24/7 and Good2Talk, there are still plenty of options for students to access immediate mental health assistance when needed.

“When we talk about mental health on campus it’s not a fad or phase,” Bharucha said.

“Every student needs to be mentally healthy to succeed in their program.”

“It’s not an issue that has just popped up this year, but it’s been more discussed and recognized that we need open conversations about it on campus and encourage students to make it a part of their daily lives.”

The Peer Connect Line has been used as an intermediary for referral to other services offered on campus and throughout the community.

However, Peer Connect will remain a strong service for students to access as an organization.

“The future for Peer Connect as a service is actually really positive. Now we can combine the training they have in that committee and give it to all of the external volunteers,” said Peer Connect coordinator, Amanda Widdifield. “As an external service we can say here are your options.”

With the new incoming executive team currently being hired, many more changes could be in the near future for Peer Connect.

“It’s important to remember that breaking the stigma is obviously a big thing, but when we break the stigma then what happens? People need access to those resources,” said Nicole Luciani, Peer Connect Line coordinator.

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