St. Thomas University is looking for a Positive Mental Health Initiative Champion to help with mental health issues on campus.
Currently the university only has one on campus mental health counselor, Roxane Morin.
Megan Thomson, student union president, said the union is concerned with there being only one on campus counselor.
“We do know that it’s something that students are looking for, and if it’s something that students are looking for it’s our job to be concerned about it because our job is to represent students to the best of our ability,” said Thomson.
The new position wouldn’t be the same as the one Morin is currently filling. While Morin meets with students one on one, and also has some of her time blocked off to deal exclusively with First Nations students, the Positive Mental Health Champion would deal more with the greater student population.
“The Positive Mental Health Champion would have their own sort of specialties,” said Shannon Clarke, director of student services and residence life. “Being able to help with planning events on campus to reduce stigma, or create awareness around mental health.”
Currently, according to Thomson, Morin’s caseload is currently full, meaning that she isn’t accepting any new studnets for long term counciling. There is one emergency slot per day which any student can make an appointment, if they are in need of immediate mental health assistance. Any other student can take advantage of the counseling services offered at UNB. Thomson said this isn’t ideal.
“Student’s needs are being met because of the fact that we do share the UNB counselling services. But to me it’s concerning if students would like to be seen by a councilor on the STU campus and have to be re-directed to UNB.” said Thomson. “What we want is for students to be seen in the way that they would like.”
Although the new Positive Mental Health Champion would be raising awareness about mental health, they would by and large not focus on counseling students one on one. Students would still have to go to counseling services on the UNB campus. Regardless Thomson is optimistic.
“It’s a step in the right direction, but more steps can always be taken,” said Thomson.
Even though Thomson is happy that a Positive Mental Health Champion is being hired, they also said more should be done.
“I personally have not done enough research as of right now to figure out the exact number. But over the weekend [the] council was doing strategic planning and the general number that people would like to see is three councilors.”