By Alanna Rizza
Ryerson’s Centre for Student Development and Counselling (CSDC) is looking to expand its mental health programs to combat long wait times and an increase in counselling demands.
Since the second week of September, CSDC has been offering a pilot program that allows students to have an initial private counselling session to decide what resources and methods of counselling will best help the student. Group therapy sessions are also offered in the second part of the program.
The centre is expanding the program now that they have increased available appointments from 30 to 71 weekly appointment slots, according to Sarah Thompson, clinical coordinator of CSDC.
“In receiving these two new positions, our focus has been dedicating both positions by providing same day consultations for students,” she said.
This program is a result of Ryerson’s announcement in May that the 2016-2017 budget includes increased funding for mental health initiatives and that two additional full-time counsellors were hired.
Thompson said the program was also initiated after students experienced long wait times to see a counsellor. She said the average wait time last year in first semester was about 4 weeks for “non-crisis” appointments. She said this number has decreased by about 50 per cent.
Thompson also said that the centre has seen a 50 per cent increase in the number of students requesting counselling sessions this year.
The first step of the program is having an initial 50 minute private counselling session where it will be decided what types of support the student needs. This could include private or group sessions, or a referral from the centre if the student has insurance plans.
These private sessions take place Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thompson said that if students come later in the day, they may be asked to come back the next day because appointments may already be filled up. Wait time will be about 24 hours.
“Our expectation is that even at peak times, we anticipate that we’ll be able to place people for same-day or next-day [appointments].”
There are two types of group therapy programs offered in the second step of the program.
There are drop-in group sessions that are offered weekly for students in a “non-crisis.” There are seven groups of about 10 to 12 students.
There is also closed group therapy sessions for students who need more in depth counselling. The sessions begin in October and February and run for about four to 10 weeks. There are about eight to 10 students in each group and one-to-one counselling is also offered.