Laurier pilots digital therapy app to help students with mental health issues

By Liz Monteiro  Waterloo Region Record


WATERLOO — Wilfrid Laurier University is working on a pilot project with a private company to offer students digital therapy to help with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.


David McMurray, vice-president of student affairs at Laurier, said the university started offering the service to a target group of students during the winter semester.


The pilot will show whether students continue to use the digital help and whether the university will invest in the phone application service.


 At Laurier’s student wellness centre, there are eight counsellors and two mental health nurses.

McMurray said about 15 per cent of the work of three doctors at the centre is related to mental health issues. Up to 1,500 faculty and students have done training related to helping students cope with mental health issues and suicide prevention.


In residences, an “early alert” program has dons check in with students to find out how they are doing, he said.


“We have to be more proactive,” McMurray said.


McMurray said next to teaching, learning and research, mental health is the next priority.


At the University of Waterloo, the president recently announced spending $1.2 million to add more counsellors on campus to help students with their mental health. The money will increase the number of counsellors on campus to 37 from 22.


Last year, two students died by suicide within two months of each other. In March, another student, a 22-year-old fourth-year student, took his own life on campus.


Colin Anderson, executive vice-president at Beacon, said one in three Canadian post-secondary students experience issues with their mental health, and two-thirds of students aren’t getting the treatment they need due to affordability, wait lists and stigma associated with getting help.


“Thirteen per cent of students have thought about suicide in the past year,” said Anderson, who was at Laurier on Friday., Twitter: @MonteiroRecord


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