SAITSA is finally set to unveil it’s new student support centre Nov. 20, in the N wing of the Senator Burns Building.
The centre, which will be in room NJ105 in the Senator Burns Building, will help students with non-academic concerns and help them in accessing resources both at SAIT and the community to ensure their mental well-being.
“Sessions like hot topics, guest speakers, group events, people talking about gender diversity will be held,” said Tegan Cochrane, SAITSA president.
“It will be a student driven centre which will work in partnership with the counselling services located at Heritage Hall. The students can come up with ideas that they want to be discussed.”
The centre will be equipped with couches, a TV, computers, and a large number of self-help books and eBooks. The students can take self-assessment tests on computers and judge whether they have any issues which need urgent attention.
Cochrane noted that SAIT does not have a women’s centre or pride centre. The new student support centre will attempt to provide the services that those facilities would provide.
[pullquote]We are like a bridge between the students and the counselling services located in Heritage Hall.[/pullquote]
“We are like a bridge between the students and the counselling services located in Heritage Hall,” said Cochrane.
“Booking an appointment with a psychologist can seem threatening to the students.”
Students suffering from depression or other problems tend to be introverted and feel hesitation in disclosing their problems to a psychologist, thus the need for a relaxed open environment.
“The centre will be less pressuring and here, the students can just sit down, grab a book, hang out and relax,” said Cochrane whose term ends on May 15, 2014.
“If there is a high-risk situation, we will immediately direct to the counselling services.”
Cochrane and Amanda Hanna, SAITSA vice-president for student life, worked hard in completing the Alberta Campus Mental Health Initiative Application. They were unsure how much funding they were going to be granted. Setting out the budget was the hardest part for them.
On Aug. 26, SAITSA was awarded $40,000 for the centre to fund mental health initiatives. The student centre is hiring two part-time staff.
They are looking for open minded individuals who can care for the students and can discuss the resources available in the community. The eligibility criterion is on the website. They have received upwards of 15 applications so far.
“Being a student, I personally went through difficult situations. I know my peers, family who have a hard time managing stress,” Cochrane said.
“When we saw $40,000 grant, these two things came together and the idea of a student support centre came up.”
After being sworn in as SAITSA president, Cochrane’s main aim was to lay more emphasis on the mental health of students.
SAITSA celebrated mental health awareness day on Oct. 10 which included yoga sessions, massage therapy, pet-a-puppy, Zumba sessions and multiple booths providing information on mental well-being of students. The event attracted a large number of students and was a booming success.
“Many students came to me and said that their day started off nicely after cuddling with the puppies,” said Cochrane. “The students must feel that they are being cared for.”