Outsourcing of mental health counselling slowly expands at Canadian universities

The University of Prince Edward Island announced this fall it would begin offering students access to 24-hour mobile counselling. This student support program comes as part of a two-year contract with Morneau Shepell, a Canadian outsourcing agency specializing in employee health and wellness programs, more commonly known as an employee assistance program, or EAP. The deal entitles UPEI students access to the company’s phone and online mental health counsellors and to its nationwide network of nutritionists, dieticians, financial and legal counsellors.

For student affairs manager Treena Smith, the outsourced counselling complements the two full-time, in-house mental health counsellors the university employs (it will soon add a part-time counsellor to that roster) and other on-campus resources like the medical clinic, the disability services office and the career centre. “We actually have great services,” Ms. Smith said. “But we all go home at five o’clock. We don’t have on-call staff, we’re too small.”

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