When students are in need of mental health supports, Brock University is here to help.

It’s not uncommon for fall to bring with it an increased need for Brock’s mental health resources. This year, however, the spike arrived earlier in the term.

“The demand began to increase the week before Reading Week, which is earlier than normal,” said Sarah Pennisi, Director of Brock’s Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre (SWAC). “We have also noticed the complexity of students’ needs has increased, and more students are presenting with severe mental health concerns needing specialized supports.”

While Pennisi could not pinpoint a specific reason for the growing demand, she knows the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have almost certainly played a part.

“I believe it’s because COVID meant that many students have been away from campus and not immersed in social activity for some time,” she said.

Though the upswing in demand may put additional pressures on the SWAC team, Pennisi said they remain as committed as ever to offering the resources that have seen Brock retain the No. 1 ranking among all comprehensive universities in Canada for mental health supports.

“At Brock, we take the mental health and well-being of our students very seriously. We continue to offer a variety of resources, both in person and remotely, that provide students the tailored support they need in their mental health journey,” she said. “Whichever way they choose to access our services, we are here to support them with whatever concerns they have.”

Along with programs that provide access to counsellors from the Canadian Mental Health Association and Student Counselling Services, as well as medical supports from Student Health Services, the University offers the MY SSP app, which provides real-time, 24-7 confidential telephone and text chat counselling support for the Brock student population.

SWAC and the Brock University Students’ Union will also host Wellness Week from Monday, Nov. 8 to Friday, Nov. 12, to shine further light on mental health through an array of wellness walks, workshops and fitness classes that specifically zero in on mental and physical well-being.

BUSU President Rafay Rehan said the weeklong initiative, which occurs twice a year, is an important part of the calendar.

“BUSU recognizes the importance of resources that support students’ mental health in any given year, and it is no secret that the pandemic has been a particularly difficult time for many,” he said.

More information about Wellness Week can be found on BUSU’s Wellness Week website.

To learn more about the many mental health resources available at Brock, visit brockmentalhealth.ca or brocku.ca/swac