College sees 38% increase in counsellor appointment requests

By Georgia Dalke

Many students are getting their entire college experience – from classes, to new friendships, to seeing a counsellor – from behind their computer screen./GEORGIA DALKE

For one RRC student, it took a hospital visit, three family members getting COVID-19, and her grades taking a nosedive to finally reach out for help near the end of the Fall 2020 term — and the college’s counselling services answered her call.

“I didn’t want to assume I was sick, but I needed help,” said Isabela Bermudez, a Business Administration student. 

“I just completely ignored what happened and kept going on without counselling, without reaching out for help.”

Bermudez said online school made her mental health considerably worse, but using the college’s counselling services eased some of the stress.

“It makes me understand my thoughts, and it helps me to have my feet on the ground,” said Bermudez.

Taylor Agius, another business student, also started using the college’s counselling and accessibility services during the fall semester.

“I felt very comfortable. I never felt judged.” said Agius, who meets occasionally with a counsellor to talk through her mental health struggles and daily stressors.

“I felt that [the counsellor] always listened and understood.”

College students need support to deal with pandemic-induced stress, and Allison Kilgour, a speaker with (a non-profit organization that supports youth mental health), said schools should be adjusting workloads to account for the added burden.

“Students should not be expected to operate at the same level that they did when classes were in person,” said Kilgour.

According to Bermudez, her course load hasn’t eased with the shift to online school.

“I can’t learn very well online and the course load is massive,” said Bermudez. “Instructors are trying. Everyone’s trying.”

Bermudez said the responsibility is now mostly on the student to ask for help, since online classes make it harder for people to notice when someone is struggling.

RRC dedicates an entire webpage to their Healthy Minds Healthy College initiative, which hosts all the wellness resources the college offers.

Students can fill out an online form to request a counselling appointment, which can be either a phone call or a video chat. If students need an immediate response, the college also offers a same day crisis service.

Mark Unruh, a counsellor at RRC, said there was a 38 per cent increase in requests for counselling appointments from December 2019 to December 2020.

“Mental health is important, especially during these times where people are isolated and their usual ways of coping may not be accessible to them,” said Unruh.

To request a counselling appointment or check out RRC’s other mental health resources, visit the Healthy Minds Healthy College webpage. For urgent issues, use RRC’s crisis service or any of these community crisis resources.