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Resources at Western U – Part 1: Residence Counselling

At Western University, they are aware that the first year from high school to university can be incredibly challenging for many students and that is why they provide many health and resources to all students, such as residence counselling. Western’s residence counselling is essentially a free counselling service that provides short term confidential counselling for all students living in residence in order to help with mental and emotional challenges and healthy living.

My experience with residence counselling

Right from the first week of my first year at Western, everyone emphasized the importance of taking care of yourself and reaching out if you ever needed help. Although I had never been to counselling before university, I wanted to have some sessions with Western’s residence counselling because many people warned me before I came to Western that the jump from high school to university was a big adjustment and could often lead to mental distress.

I still remember that the week of my first session in residence counselling, sometime in September of my first year, I was having a rough week because of homesickness and academic pressures, among other things. So, when I got to my first introductory counselling session, I think ten minutes in, all these emotions came up and I started to cry uncontrollably. I remember calling my mom after my session and telling her that I really did not want to go back again but I am so happy that I did because ever since that second session, I have had incredibly nice, therapeutic, insightful and even fun counselling sessions with my counsellor.

I will always be grateful for residence counselling because during that second session, I asked her if she had any ideas on how to deal with my really bad acne and her advice was to go see a doctor at Student Health Services (stay tuned for that article) who could hopefully help me find a special cream or medication for my face. As it turns out though, the doctor at Student Health Services diagnosed me with dermatillomania, a skin picking disorder connected to obsessive compulsive disorder. Without my residence counsellor’s advice, I would have never found a doctor and I would have never known that I had a skin picking disorder as well as other mental illnesses including generalized anxiety disorder and depression.

The great things about residence counselling

I love how residence counselling offers students free ninety-minute sessions where you can talk about any and every issue or challenge you are having whether it is academically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, socially or financially. In my sessions with my counsellor, I have talked about everything under the sun including my courses, exams, extracurricular activities, relationships, family members, budgeting, sleeping habits, drinking and partying, and of course, other heavier things including my anxiety and depression. Not only does my counsellor actively listen to all of the problems and challenges that I am going through, but she offers me advice, strategies and resources in order to become the best version of myself.

She was/is the first counsellor I ever had and while I have tried a couple other counsellors as well, she is by far the kindest, most caring and most empathetic counsellor I have had, and I am so glad that I have met her.

The downsides of residence counselling

While I think residence counselling is an incredible resource for students living in residence, there are a couple downsides as well unfortunately.

First, as so many students live in residence, you can only actually visit your counsellor for monthly sessions. This can be problematic because if your counselling appointment is scheduled for the last week of the month, but you are in distress and need a counselling session during the second week of the month, it can be a little bit challenging.

Second, as the name implies, residence counselling is only for students living in residence. Although I am in second year now, I still live in residence as a soph (orientation leader that is similar to an RA), and therefore I still get to go to residence counselling. However, it is going to difficult next year when I move off-campus and I can no longer visit my favourite counsellor who I have built a strong emotional connection with.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I would give Western University’s mental health resource of residence counselling a score of 9 out of 10 because while you can only book monthly appointments, I love how I can talk with my counsellor about a variety of different things and without judgement, she listens and provides me with strategies and resources to enhance and improve my mental health. Western’s residence counselling will always hold a special place in my heart.

Anika is a second-year student in media studies and writing at Western University. Anika was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and depression in her first year at Western and since then, she has become incredibly passionate about mental health advocacy, mental health resources and how mental health is portrayed in the media. She is interested in pursuing a career in advertising upon graduation and when she’s not studying or writing articles, you can find her baking, swimming, watching movies and shows, listening to music, and hanging out with friends and family.