Something that used to be hummed and whispered about across campus has now become something that’s being regularly talked about.
This upcoming year, Laurier is planning on developing a Wellness Initiative that is going to completely change the resources available for mental health on campus.
“I’m extraordinarily excited,” said David McMurray, the vice president of student affairs. McMurray explained that a year-long strategy to help develop the mental health programming and resources that are available at Laurier has been created.
Essentially, there will be a merger of health services and counseling services to create a conjoined program aimed at working with mental health and affiliated issues.
“It’s guided by a new model that we refer to as a ‘circle of care,’” McMurray said.
“What we’ve done in the past is added to our capacity of student affairs and services from a resource perspective,” McMurray added.
It will also include staff from health services, accessible learning, athletics, counseling services, Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union (WLUSU), and the Graduate Students’ Association.
“It will basically model counseling and mental health services together focusing on the students,” McMurray said. “There will be a number of sub groups.”
McMurray also spoke of engaging professionals in the Kitchener-Waterloo community.
“We’re working really hard at building a repertoire of partners that universities can really afford,” he added.
The timeline of this project is divided into three parts: fall, winter, and summer.
The fall semester will act as a research and development phase where McMurray and his team will acquire any data, literature, or information that supports this initiative.
“We’ll be working in strategic thinking, really attending all the pieces that need to be done for this,” he explained.
The winter semester will finalize all decisions needed to support the new look. “And next summer, whatever physical changes — IT, marketing, communications, jobs, [etc.] —that need to be made will be made in those months,” McMurray said.
McMurray also revealed a new position that he says will be a key component in making this initiative work.
Adrienne Luft is the mental health student support leader at Laurier. Luft’s role is to oversee the most critical cases as a case manager. Laurier is the only university in Ontario to have a position available on campus.
“Part of my role with students is supporting them and getting them involved with the different support systems that we have on campus and in the community,” Luft explained. Luft explained that there will be a line of student support services and events that are going to be available within the next year.
There will also be educational opportunities where students can be trained on early symptoms of mental health and a ‘Wellness Hub,’ which will be a social media forum for information about the events.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Luft said. “There are a lot of great things that are going to happen.”