Western Opens After-Hours Mental Health Clinic

The University Community Centre at Western University . (Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News.)

Western University students experiencing a mental health crisis now have access to a new after-hours walk-in clinic on campus.

Funded through a three-year, $236,000 grant from the London Community Foundation, the new clinic is a collaboration between Western, King’s University College, Fanshawe College, and the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). It is believe to be the first collaboration of its kind in Ontario.

“This recognizes the dire need some students have, particularly during high-stress times such as exams and end of semester,” said Cynthia Gibney, director of Western’s Student Health Services. “Mental health issues among young people have become a real problem, not just at Western but at post-secondary institutions across Canada, and we need to provide supports that make sense for them during tumultuous times.”

The drop-in clinic will be staffed by CMHA crisis counsellors, who will help students with problem-solving and coping strategies and, where appropriate, make referrals to additional or ongoing supports both on-campus and off-campus. Located at Student Health Services in Room 11 of the University Community Centre, the clinic is free to undergraduate and graduate students.

It will be open to students Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings from November 21 to December 14, and will resume next semester.

Satellite clinics will also operate at affiliate King’s University College and at Fanshawe College.

“Too many young people are falling through the cracks in our mental health care system. We are proud to support this initiative that will help support early intervention and help bridge the gap so that students can receive the care they need, when they need it,” said Martha Powell, president and CEO of the London Community Foundation.

Students took advantage of a walk-in clinic pilot project funded last year by CMHA, and a second pilot funded by Western during this past spring’s exams. During each session, about 70 people came to the clinics for after-hours crisis care.

The University Student’s Council pushed for the new on campus partnership after seeing the benefits of the walk-in crisis centre operated by CMHA Middlesex on Huron St.

“Based on our discussions with other student groups, post-secondary institutions and mental-health agencies, we believe this is a ‘first’ in Ontario,” said Student Programs Officer Mac McIntosh. “Maybe we’re the trailblazers and this will take off in other cities as well.”