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Student Wellness Services offers new supports for Black-identified and racialized students

Student Wellness Services (SWS) is offering new supports and resources for Black-identified and racialized students at Queen’s.

In response to, and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, SWS has expanded its efforts to better support the mental health needs of Black students. This includes speaking with Black student representatives about potential areas of improvement, and offering training to all SWS staff related to Black racialized trauma.

“Student Wellness Services stands beside Black-identified students,” says Dr. Rina Gupta, Director of Counselling Services. “We want them to feel safe and supported in our care. Our staff is very committed to listening, learning, and responding to Black voices and moving towards more specialized modes of support.”

Counselling Services has introduced a multi-session Group Support for Racialized Students online series. It aims to provide a safe space for racialized students – both domestic and international – to reflect on topics such as inequity, oppression, and where they can share their personal experiences and thoughts on systemic and structural racism.

The program is facilitated by Dr. Arunima Khanna, the Cross-Cultural Advisor at SWS, who specializes in culturally-sensitive counselling for students from culturally and racially diverse backgrounds.

The first two sessions were held on June 29 and July 6, and the series continues July 13 at 4pm EST over ZOOM. Students can register on the SWS registration page.

In addition, SWS has contracted with local mental health professional E.L. Adams who is providing individual counselling sessions and group support for Black-identified students. Mr. Adams is a clinical and educational psychologist who has experience working in Canadian school systems and supporting youth and their families at his Kingston practice. He is working closely with SWS to ensure that students feel supported and receive the services they need. 

One-on-one appointments with Mr. Adams offer students a private setting to explore their personal concerns and develop coping strategies. For students looking to engage with their peers, group support sessions provide the opportunity for Black-identified students to connect with one another and discuss similar experiences of oppression.

“It is important for black students to have this space because often there is nowhere for them to go to be accepted and validated,” says Mr. Adams. “I am hoping to provide a space where they can find a connection to others and work through their experiences of racism and emotional turmoil so that they can move forward and better manage their mental health.”

Appointment requests for all counsellors, including Dr. Khanna and Mr. Adams, can be emailed to counselling.services@queensu.ca. Students should specify that they would like an appointment with Mr. Adams or Dr. Khanna in the email, and whether they are seeking a one-on-one or group support. Due to COVID-19, appointments are currently being conducted by video.

Indigenous students can also book online one-on-one and group appointments with the Four Directions Indigneous Student Centre’s Lisa Doxdator by emailing Lisa at lmd9@queensu.ca. Wellness and cultural programming for Indigenous students are continuing this summer online.

For a listing of all Student Wellness Services offerings, and how students can access them from wherever they are living, visit the SWS website. In addition, 24/7 supports include

Empower Me, the self-directed tool Therapy Assistance Online (TAO), and for students living outside of Canada, International SOS.

For additional inclusive services and supports, visit Inclusive Queen’s.