‘ There can be a lot of stress for stu­dents’

New cam­pus coun­selling ser­vice avail­able to CBU stu­dents

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY GREG MCNEIL

Cape Bre­ton Univer­sity stu­dents will have ac­cess to men­tal health re­sources be­gin­ning this fall.

“There can be a lot of stress for stu­dents,” said Bran­don El­lis, pres­i­dent of the CBU stu­dents union, said of the need for the pro­gram, which he says should help stu­dents with a va­ri­ety is­sues that may arise out­side of the class­room.

“It’s tough mak­ing that tran­si­tion from high school be­cause the work­load is sig­nif­i­cantly heav­ier and you are more on your own, as op­posed to hav­ing some­one push you along.”

The univer­sity and its stu­dents union signed on for the Aspiria pro­gram, which al­lows stu­dents to contact a coun­sel­lor for men­tal health is­sues and also gives them ac­cess to fi­nan­cial and le­gal ser­vices at any time.

A clin­i­cal psy­chother­a­pist, an ad­dic­tions coun­sel­lor and an aca­demics coun­sel­lor are other ex­am­ples of as­sis­tance avail­able to stu­dents and their families through the new pro­gram.

“It’s es­sen­tially a hot­line,” said El­lis. “You can call Aspiria any time of the day, any day of the year, and you can speak to a rep­re­sen­ta­tive and they can talk to stu­dents in 150 dif­fer­ent lan­guages, which is very big for our in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity.”

Nutri­tion, be­reave­ment, bul­ly­ing, and anx­i­ety are other key ar­eas of ex­per­tise the new ser­vice is said to pro­vide as a com­ple­ment to other ser­vices now avail­able at the univer­sity.

“We are find­ing that stu- dents might want a dif­fer­ent type of men­tal health ser­vice as op­posed to a tra­di­tional face to face,” said El­lis. “With Aspiria you can talk over the phone with a ther­a­pist, you can do a video chat, you can even email with them.”

If a stu­dent doesn’t feel com­fort­able meet­ing with a school coun­sel­lor, Aspiria can set them up with a coun­sel­lor in the com­mu­nity.

“If Aspiria feels that a meet­ing with a so­cial worker might be more ap­pro­pri­ate for the stu­dent, they’ll just rec­om­mend them back. Ide­ally, they’ll work hand in hand with each other.”

El­lis said the pro­gram comes to CBU af­ter a suc­cess­ful im­ple­men­ta­tion at St. Fran­cis Xavier and other uni­ver­si­ties. There’s no cost for stu­dents who at­tend in the com­ing year be­cause the univer­sity will pay the full bill dur­ing the trial pe­riod.

Norm Smith, di­rec­tor of stu­dent ser­vices at CBU, said the ser­vice will al­low the univer­sity to ex­pand and com­ple­ment coun­selling ser­vices to the cam­pus com­mu­nity.

“We are very pleased to have sup­ported the ini­tia­tive by our stu­dents union,” said Smith. “It clearly shows their lead­er­ship and com­mit­ment to our stu­dents.”

At the end of next year stu­dents will be asked if they want to keep the pro­gram. If they vote to keep it, the cost will be $5.50 per stu­dent.

GREG MCNEIL/CAPE BRE­TON POST

Cape Bre­ton Univer­sity stu­dents union pres­i­dent Bran­don El­lis looks over some in­for­ma­tion on Aspiria, a new cam­pus coun­selling pro­gram. The ser­vice will be avail­able to stu­dents at the univer­sity in Septem­ber.

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