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Resources at Western U – Part 2: Student Health Services
Hello, I am so sorry it has been so long! I have had a very busy few months, but I am now back and ready to attack. And by attack, I mean tell you about more of the mental health resources I have tried at Western University.
In this article, I am going to talk about the resources of Student Health Services (SHS). Student Health Services is the medical centre on campus where they provide a variety of health services for students including medical care, counselling and psychiatry, birth control information and many other things. While I have gone to see SHS for many things, in this article I am only going to talk about the help I have received for my mental health.
My experience with Student Health Services
Okay, so in my last article, I explained how my residence counsellor encouraged me to go see a doctor and Student Health Services in order to see if they could provide me with a special cream or medication to help me with my acne-prone face.
When I went into that Student Health Services appointment, I just assumed that they would have some special face cream for me that would make my problems going away. Oh boy, how I was so wrong. It was in that doctor’s appointment that I actually had a deep-rooted larger issue. The doctor diagnosed me with dermatillomania, a skin picking disorder associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder where I spend large parts of my day picking and scraping at my skin, often leaving marks and scars. At first, I started to cry as it was a lot for me to take in. He was very supportive and kind though, and he asked me to go see a psychiatrist through the Student Health Services in order to get a second opinion.
A few weeks later, I had my appointment with a psychiatrist at Student Health Services. During the appointment, he asked many questions about my life in order to assess and decide whether or not to diagnose me with a mental illness. At the end of the appointment, he diagnosed me with obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalized-anxiety disorder, and depression.
In terms of treatment, my psychiatrist and I started with anti-depressant medication for a few weeks and I would have to meet with him every two to three weeks to see how things were going. While I believe that anti-depressants are important and help many people, they did not work for me as they frequently messed with my mood. My psychiatrist was very supportive of my choice to stop the medication though and recommended that I begin cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) at an off-campus treatment centre called Archways (that article will come soon)! This meant that as I was no longer on any medication though, my time with my psychiatrist was over. I will always be grateful for his support though.
The Great Things about Student Health Services
Student Health Services was the first resource that diagnosed me with mental illnesses and for that I greatly appreciate them as I cannot get better without knowing what my issues are first. Both the doctor who first diagnose me and my psychiatrist were both incredibly kind and supportive. I really appreciate how my psychiatrist taught me different strategies for skin picking including making a log and eliminating as many mirrors from my room as I could. I also loved how he allowed me to explore various treatment options including medication and therapy, and was accepting
The Downsides of Students Health Services
While I have had rather positive experiences with Student Health Services, I know several people who have had negative experiences with this mental health resource, specially about long they have to wait for appointments. While this is complaint I have heard with many of Western’s resources as there is such a high demand but not enough services for everyone, I frequently hear about how some people have to wait weeks and even months just to get one psychiatric appointment. The good news is that Western is currently planning to establish a more organized system with more resources for and less wait times for students.
Overall, Western’s Student Health Services is a great mental health resource for students. Although some people dislike how long the wait times for counselling and psychiatric appointments are and how often they are referred to resources off-campus, at the end of the day, the people who work there are kind, supportive and care about the health, safety and well-being of students at Western.
Check out Anika’s Blog Series Resources at Western U – Part 1: Residence Counselling.
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.