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Putting Health First at Dalhousie During a Difficult Year

Posted by Catherine Armour and Kristie Gillis on November 6, 2020 in News
Taking care of your health, especially your mental health, is an important investment and should be your top priority. (Provided photo)
Taking care of your health, especially your mental health, is an important investment and should be your top priority. (Provided photo)

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the Dalhousie community in various aspects of daily life. And though our community has continued to adapt to this ever-changing reality, it is important to take time to acknowledge the unique ways in which COVID-19 can impact mental health. Times of transition are overwhelming, the uncertainty of the future is worrying, and isolating can be, well ... isolating. These feelings are valid. Taking care of your health, especially your mental health, is an important investment and should be your top priority.

This year, Dalhousie Student Health & Wellness has been working hard to offer mental health support resources that can adequately serve the entire Dalhousie community. Services are being delivered in a number of ways (i.e. in-person, over the phone, virtual meetings, self-led programs, etc.) in order to provide quality mental health care, while continuing to follow Public Health COVID-19 Guidelines.

Counselling for Students

Students looking to connect with a counsellor have a number of options available to them. Same day counselling at the Student Health & Wellness Centre in Halifax is still available Monday-Saturday. Students can easily book their appointment online or by calling the Centre. In Truro, students looking for support can also book appointments with physicians and nurses. Good2Talk is a confidential telephone and texting counselling service available to students in Canada 24/7/365. For international students studying at home, the Remote Student Health Program connects students with counsellors from their home country and in their preferred language. Group counselling is also being offered to cover a variety of topics, including anxiety, graduate student support, eating disorders, and more.

Online Support for Students

Online programs and virtual workshops are also available to support students’ mental health and success. Therapy Assistance Online (TAO) and Q-Life are online programs aimed at increasing resilience and teaching skills for stress management. The Inquiring Mind is a 4-hour workshop that covers three main components: stigma reduction, resiliency skills, and the Mental Health Continuum Model.

Students also have access to a variety of academic and online learning resources to support their learning at Dalhousie. Stay on Track is a student success program offered for first- and second-year students who want to learn more about their strengths and develop new skills and strategies. Students can also participate in Studying for Success workshops which are now offered virtually through the Bissett Student Success Centre.

Staying connected to others is an important part of ensuring good mental health, but can be challenging when navigating a pandemic. The Dal Mobile App brings campus to your fingertips and enables you to connect with the Dal community. Students can also connect with their peers through online events, like Virtual Puppy Power Hour with Oscar the Therapy Dog, which takes place every Thursday on Brightspace.

Again this year, the Dalhousie Mental Health Forum, a partnership between the DSU and Student Health and Wellness, will bring together those with an interest in mental health to share and inspire ideas to enhance our community. The forum will be held on the third Tuesday of each month, starting this November.

Resources and Training for Faculty and Staff

A healthy campus community requires a holistic approach. The Blue Folder is a guide to recognizing and responding to students in distress. The purpose of this resource is to direct faculty and staff in identifying the signs of a student in distress, knowing the steps required to make a student referral, and being aware of the resources available to students.

If faculty and staff are concerned about the wellbeing of a Dalhousie student, the online Student Referral Form can be used to refer a student to Dalhousie’s Case Manager and Social Worker. The Case Manager will reach out to the student to ensure their health needs are met.     

There are also mental health training opportunities that faculty and staff can participate in. Communications for Complex Conversations is a 90-minute workshop led by Dalhousie Health & Wellness Social Worker, Hazel Ling, which supports faculty and staff in facilitating complex conversations with students who require additional support. Mental Health 101 Training is a presentation developed for university faculty and staff to increase awareness and understanding of mental illness and mental health issues. To learn more about these workshops and how to register, visit the website.

Mental Health Support for Faculty and Staff

You can’t pour from an empty cup. The Healthy Dalhousie Blog provides information regarding services that support the mental health of faculty and staff. The blog is also a space for faculty and staff to find general health and wellbeing tips. The Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) offers immediate and confidential help to faculty, staff, and their families.

Learn more about the mental health resources available for students, faculty and staff at