HCDS director inspired by students
You’d be hard-pressed to find many people on campus who haven’t heard of Mike Condra.
A psychologist by training, Dr. Condra is the director of Health, Counselling and Disability Services (HCDS). It’s a role and a department that have changed immensely in the 20 years since he came to Queen’s.
“More and more, counselling services are seeing students with significant mental health problems. It became clear we needed to be thinking a lot more about these things,” he says.
One of the many projects Dr. Condra has spearheaded while at Queen’s is the creation of mental health training programs for staff, faculty and students. The courses range from a 45-minute session that focuses on awareness-raising and resources to the popular Mental Health First Aid, a two-day session that covers everything from mental health literacy to first aid intervention skills.
The university has developed several other mental health-related programs in recent years, and has committed more resources to Dr. Condra and his team. Many of the recommendations in the Principal’s Commission on Mental Health report involve HCDS in some way.
“The university has made a genuine commitment to this, and that’s a wonderful thing,” he says.
When it comes to running HCDS, Dr. Condra has many responsibilities; but he says it’s his interactions and conversations with students – which he still has on a regular basis – that he most enjoys.
“We work in an educational framework, so we try to approach things from an educational point of view,” he says. “There are so many interesting things to do, so many opportunities. But I find talking to people to be the most interesting.”
It’s not quite how he envisioned his career when he came to Kingston from Ireland to do his PhD. But all these years later, he says he can’t imagine it any other way.
“I truly enjoy working here,” says Dr. Condra. “Best decision I ever made.”