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Wellness Centre opening

Online exclusive: Supporting mental health at Laurier

How Laurier cares for the mental health of its students – and how you can help

Julie Gamble, a registered nurse at Laurier's Student Wellness Centre, knows the importance of the university’s commitment to supporting and advocating for student mental health.

“Having mental health support and care on campus at Laurier is not only essential, but also proactive,” Gamble says.

Gamble recounts the story of a student who recently graduated.  While still working toward his undergraduate degree, he came to her office convinced he wouldn’t pass the semester, let alone graduate.

Gamble worked with the student and provided a safe space to talk. She helped him access mental health resources, including substance abuse and academic supports. Ultimately, the student was able to reach his education and mental health goals.

Today, he is the first person in his family to graduate from university and is working toward a master's degree.

Gamble sees about 500 students every term in her role as the mental health nurse at the Student Wellness Centre on Laurier's Waterloo campus.

“I play many roles here at Laurier as a mental health nurse. I do some triage and crisis work. I also do a lot of education regarding resources, medications, substances and symptoms,” she says. “Mostly, I work with students to assist them in navigating supports and treatment. I work with community resources to assist students who need more intensive supports not available on campus, or connect students to our campus counsellors, doctors and academic supports for specific concerns.”

Gamble says it is critical for Laurier to continue its commitment to support, advocate and care for the mental health of students.

Laurier’s Waterloo campus Dean of Students Leanne Holland Brown agrees.

“Students can’t do their best when they don’t feel their best,” she says. “At Laurier, we strive to create the best possible conditions for students’ personal and academic success. A big part of that includes paying attention to how we’re supporting and encouraging student wellness – including students’ mental health.”

Laurier’s Vice-President of Student Affairs David McMurray says the creation of Laurier’s leading-edge Student Wellness Centre, where many of the university’s mental health resources are made available to students, is a testament to Laurier’s commitment.

“Our primary goal is to shape an enriching learning environment that is intentionally integrated and cohesively structured where students feel welcomed, valued and understood, particularly when they are faced with challenging personal conditions,” McMurray says. “Our wellness centres are crafted with a circle-of-care approach in mind, supporting student success that does not come at the price of personal health and well-being.”

Mental health by the numbers

  • As many as one in four post-secondary students experience a mental health or addiction issue during their academic careers.
  • During the 2015-2016 academic year, 533 students were registered with the Accessible Learning Centre on Laurier's Waterloo campus with mental health as their primary identified disability.
  • In the past year, Laurier's Waterloo Student Wellness Centre increased its counselling appointment capacity by 37 per cent and has seen a 14 per cent increase in counselling appointments each year since 2014.
  • In 2014, Laurier’s former Health Services and Counselling Services departments were amalgamated to form the Student Wellness Centre. Staff members at the centre include a mental health nurse, wellness education coordinator, clinical counselling lead and a consulting psychiatrist.
  • Stigma remains the leading factor preventing students from seeking assistance for mental health issues.

A call to action

Laurier is committed to ensuring students thrive and the university prides itself on being a leader in the ways it supports, cares and advocates for the mental health of its students and communities.

Student support services play a key role in enabling students to deal with mental health issues and make the most of their post-secondary experience. An inability to access these services can lead to an amplification of existing problems, which can ultimately have devastating consequences. Increasing awareness of and support for mental health resources is of vital importance.

This cannot be done without support, which will help Laurier expand its capacity for new outreach initiatives, increase awareness about mental health, decrease stigmatization related to mental health and eliminate barriers to accessing programs and services.

Help Laurier students by investing in mental health initiatives, outreach and programs as part of Laurier's Catalyst fundraising campaign. Visit to make a donation.