Faster access to mental health care

Faster access to mental health care

New mental health care service delivery model to provide built-in flexibility and expanded referral options to help meet students' needs.

By Communications Staff

July 19, 2019


As Student Wellness Services (SWS) moves to its new space in the Côté Sharp Student Wellness Centre on the main floor of Mitchell Hall, SWS is introducing a new mental health service delivery model designed to better meet students’ needs by providing quicker access to care.

SWS is increasing the number of same day appointments available for mental heath-related issues, with the primary entry point becoming a same-day 30-minute appointment. Planning is underway to create multiple opportunities for accessing the daily appointments to accommodate student schedules, and an online booking system is in development.

It is anticipated that access to care will be much faster than past wait times of five or six weeks for a first appointment. Counsellors will work collaboratively with students to develop an individualized care plan, which may include additional pre-booked sessions with the same counsellor, as well as referrals to skills or therapy groups, the university’s new online wellness resource called TAO, and/or other campus services and programs.

“Queen’s students possess many strengths, and benefit most from a strengths-based mental health approach,” says Dr. Rina Gupta, Director, Counselling Services. “By facilitating quicker access when students feel they need support, we can prevent a downward spiral that can occur with longer wait times. Student satisfaction surveys have reflected high satisfaction with the quality of care received from counsellors, but frustration with long wait times.”

This model has been successfully implemented at many universities, and has been adopted after consultation with institutions that have seen decreased wait times and increased student satisfaction with access to service.

Crisis support will continue to be offered to students with immediate needs affecting their safety, or the safety of others, and an enhanced triage process will ensure students with complex needs are carefully monitored and supported.

“One-on-one counselling remains a centerpiece of what we offer. We want to remove barriers, and get more students in to care faster, while providing expanded complementary options that promote individual well-being,” says Dr. Gupta. “This model has built-in flexibility to provide the level of care that students need, when they need it. Most students don’t need intensive levels of care, but some do, and this model allows us the ability to ensure the safety of those who require closer monitoring.”

The model is being introduced in the summer, when fewer students are on campus, so that it can be adjusted, as needed, to ensure it runs smoothly in the fall, when daily demand for service goes back up. All previously booked counselling appointments were not affected in the transition to this new model, and some specialized counselling, including support for students who have experienced sexual violence, eating disorders, as well as appointments with the embedded counsellor at the Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre, will continue to offer primarily pre-booked appointments.

“A lot of thought and planning has gone into the new model,” says Dr. Gupta.  “The goal is to provide better service. Counsellors are as committed as ever to to providing quality care to students. We recognize this is a change, but we are confident more students will experience enhanced access to a range of services to promote their health and well-being.”

Medical, mental health, and accessibility services will reopen in the Côté Sharp Student Wellness Centre on the main floor of Mitchell Hall starting Monday July 22. Services may be temporarily limited as services ramp up in the new space.

Visit the Student Wellness Services website for more information.