Evening crisis walk-in clinic for students arrives at Fanshawe

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: SIMON DUNFORD
The clinic, located at the Student Wellness Centre, will run each Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. (last walk-in at 8 p.m.) until April 5

Fanshawe's Counselling and Accessibility Services and the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) have collaborated to bring an evening crisis support walk-in clinic to campus.

At the walk-in clinic, students who feel like they are in a state of crisis can meet with CMHA crisis counsellors to speak to and receive support and referrals on campus. Ashley Cochrane, the case management and peer program facilitator at Counselling and Accessibility Services, explained that a crisis is very personal and subjective for each individual. “One person's crisis may not be the same as another person's,” Cochrane said.

The clinic, located at the Student Wellness Centre, will run each Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. (last walk-in at 8 p.m.) until April 5.

Cochrane explained that when a student first arrives at the crisis support walk-in clinic, they will be greeted by two peer support student volunteers who will offer practical and emotional support to the student in crisis while they are waiting to see the CMHA crisis counsellors. “[The peer support volunteers] will meet them, make them feel welcome, offer some snacks or tea, sit down with them, maybe do some colouring with mandalas and just chit-chat with them for a little bit. If the student is asking about specific resources on campus, a peer may offer that information as well. They will help with the in-take form for CMHA and just kind of keep them company while the student is waiting.”

Suzanne Book, the senior manager for Counselling and Accessibility Services at Fanshawe, said that when students meet with one of the two CMHA crisis counsellors, the counsellors will assess what the student is looking for in terms of support and what their current level of distress is. In addition to the process and support of a traditional counselling session, the counsellors will assess whether the student needs further help from their services and will also offer advice such as coping strategies on a case-by-case basis. “[The counselling session] may be a short intervention or [may last] an hour or longer depending on the need of the student,” Book said.

Book explained that the peer support program is currently a new initiative on campus, and in the future, the volunteers will help with other counselling and accessibility events such as assisting with educational awareness campaign regarding mental health, coping strategies and more. The volunteers have gone through training in topics such as safe talk, crisis intervention, active listening, confidentiality and privacy, healthy boundaries, a knowledge of resources on and off campus and more. Students interesting in volunteering with the peer support program for the upcoming fall semester can contact Ashely Cochrane at Counselling and Accessibility Services.

In November of 2017, the London Community Foundation put forth a $236,000 grant in order for these clinics to operate during certain time periods over the next three years at Fanshawe College, Western University and King's University.

FSU president elect, Jahmoyia Smith, whose number one campaign platform point was increasing mental health initiatives on campus, said that she thinks the crisis support walk-in clinic is an amazing program and she hopes that Fanshawe will collaborate with CMHA on more initiatives in the future.

Cochrane explained that the crisis support walk-in clinic is a great way to introduce students to mental health resources available in the community that they can utilize once they graduate from Fanshawe or on weekends.

“I really like the idea of community integration for students. I think offering a community service on campus initially to familiarize students to the service, make them feel safe and introduce them to that services and different opportunities [is great]. When they are not a student anymore or maybe on weekends or evenings when [Counselling and Accessibility Services] is not around, they may be more likely to reach out to that community service,” Cochrane said.

Book said that it is important for students to reach out for support as soon as it is needed. She said that Counselling and Accessibility Services see so many students in crisis and the organization is trying to help students reach out earlier to assist them in getting the help and support/services they need quickly