After spending the last year consulting with colleagues across campus and across Canada, it was determined that changes to the organizational structure, roles and processes of Student Health Services, Student Counselling Services and Disability Student Services were required.
“This new model is designed to focus on early identification of issues, increasing access, and improving timeliness of services to ensure the right support accessed at the right time,” said Peter Hedley, director of Student Affairs and Services. “With an increasingly diverse student population with growing and changing health and welfare needs, especially mental health needs, it is important to review how the U of S delivers mental and physical health care.”
Hedley said the new mental health intake process within Student Affairs and Outreach will help ensure students seeking mental health services are connected to the right support at the right time using the principles of a stepped care model, which is a system of first delivering treatment that is the most effective, yet the least resource intensive.
The Student Affairs and Outreach team also offers consultation and guidance to faculty, staff and students who are concerned about the wellbeing of a student, and is responsible for responding to a student crisis in a coordinated and supportive manner.
“During regular business hours, if a student is assessed to be in crisis, or at immediate risk, the goal is for them to be seen straight away by the student outreach coordinator, intake counsellor or another member of the team,” said Hedley. “In other cases, for students requesting mental health services, the goal is to provide an intake appointment within seven to 14 business days, varying depending on the time of the year and overall student need.”
Students registered in classes in the current term and who have a valid Saskatchewan health card, are eligible to receive services at the Student Wellness Centre and with Student Affairs and Outreach.
Spouses and dependents of students can access most services at the Student Wellness Centre, with the exception of psychiatry, one-on-one counselling and group therapy. However, students and their spouses can access group couples counselling.
Hedley said the changes made will be continually monitored in terms of client outcomes, satisfaction and feedback, staff satisfaction and wait-times.
In November, Disability Student Services, the third unit within Hedley’s portfolio, will be renamed to Access and Equity Services.
“Our work increasingly involves us providing supports and accommodations for students under all protected areas of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code,” Hedley said. “This means that Disability Services for Students no longer appropriately describes the full scope of work in this area, which now includes assisting students requiring accommodations based on disability (mental and physical), religion, family status (including pregnancy) and gender identity.
“As part of our exploration of a new direction, we ran a campus survey and the most popular choice for renaming was Access and Equity Services. We’re excited about the change as the new name concisely captures what we’re seeking to provide.”
Hedley explains that more information will be forthcoming on this next month as the new name officially launches.