Fiona Weber (left), a mental health nurse from health services, and Shelina Syed (right), a peer support worker, take part in Bell Let's Talk day on Jan. 25. Photo credit: Rebekah Houter

Only an estimated 10 per cent out of the 18,000 students on campus are using counselling services, and Student Support Services wants to make it easier for students to find the tools they need.

There are plans for a new website for this upcoming fall 2023 in partnership with Stepped Care Solutions, a not-for-profit mental health organization that provides organizational skills and models.

Jeffery Agate, associate director of Student Support Services, describes the future website as working similarly to a restaurant menu.

“It is essentially a way of organizing the mental health supports we have so that there’s a menu and students can decide what they want,” Agate said. “Essentially what it will look like for students will be a website where they can see everything that the college offers for mental health, all in one location.”

Although no new services will be offered, Student Support Service’s hope is the site will make it easier to access the mental health resources already available. It will also offer students resources about how to take care of their mental health.

Maria Asquith, a first-year radio broadcasting student, said not everyone she’s talked to is able or willing to get help.

“I see a lot of stuff about mental health on campus and I know people that struggle with depression and anxiety.” Asquith said. “I think a lot of people are scared to reach out.”

There is a perception about getting help through the college, and not every student looks for mental health support while at school.

“It’s easier for me to get help off-campus,” Asquith said. “I feel like there’s a bigger boundary. I don’t know who’d I’d get going to counselling here.”

Doug Stringer, manager of counselling services at Algonquin College, encouraged all students to check out the Welcome Center, the mental health centre for Algonquin College, to talk about their mental health or even just to learn what mental health is.

“It’s okay just to talk about it, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of,” Stringer said. “I think slowly that message is getting out there.”

Radio broadcasting student Mason Crowell said his best tip for bad days is to know you’re not alone in whatever you are going through.

“Don’t ever feel like you’re alone, you’re never alone,” Crowell said. “There are so many people to talk to.”

As the talk about mental health continues, Algonquin College encourages students to get involved with events and to reach out for questions and feedback.

“I think there’s always more to be done,” Stringer said. “Whether it a one-on-one conversation, or whether it’s informational, I think there is always more (to do).”

On-campus mental health resources

During office hours, 8 a.m. and 4:45 p.m., the on-campus counselling services have same-day or next-day appointments available by calling 613-727-4723 ext. 7300 or through walk-ins on the third floor in the E-building in Student Commons.

The Mamidosewin Centre also has counselling available for Indigenous students, the contact number is 613-727-4723 ext. 2098, or email directly.

What if you are needing help and the campus is closed? Crisis lines can help with that.

Good2talk is an online platform for free confidential service for post-secondary students with both phoning and texting available.

The Ottawa crisis line is for individuals over 16.

Peer-to-peer talks are also available through the AC Purple Couch which focuses on casual mental health discussions and awareness.