With in-person appointments and drop-in counselling sessions limited by COVID-19 restrictions, Loyalist College counsellors Cassie Richardson and Julie Millar have found a unique way to connect with Loyalist students during the pandemic.
Richardson and Millar teamed up with Loyalist College campus radio station 91X FM CJLX to create a weekly radio spot called ‘Loyalist Counsellors during COVID,’ which tackles common mental health problems among Loyalist students, and suggests helpful coping strategies for those in need.
“During the pandemic we have been offering phone-counselling sessions, but we wanted to reach a larger number of students, to let them know that even though we are isolated, we are still a community,” said Richardson. “We needed a creative solution to increase connectivity with students. That’s when we came up with the radio broadcast.”
The broadcast airs four times per week throughout the summer, on Tuesday mornings, Wednesday afternoons, Thursday evenings and Saturday afternoons, and is archived on the radio’s Soundcloud. Each episode is themed around a common mental health issue, from disrupted sleep patterns to irrational thinking.
“We choose subjects that are coming up frequently in our individual counselling sessions, or are related to the challenges of working from home and social isolation. For example, many students are struggling with increased anxiety and the disruption of their normal routine during the pandemic,” said Richardson.
For Pride Month, the sixth episode of the broadcast was dedicated to acknowledging the unique issues faced by the LGBTQ2S community during the pandemic.
“We wanted to address how all of the social isolation we are experiencing can be particularly difficult for those who don’t feel accepted or even supported in their own homes. For some in the LGBTQ+ community, this can be a harsh reality,” Richardson said during the broadcast.
The College’s counsellors hope to continue the weekly broadcast when the pandemic restrictions are lifted.
“Students are often under a lot of pressure, and can be really hard on themselves. Our role is to help them to learn tools they can use to change their thinking. The broadcast is just one more way to open up the conversation on mental health, and reach people who need help,” said Richardson.
Student Government President Jenish Patel agreed the broadcast is an important initiative for supporting student mental health.
“Many of us have been experiencing a range of emotions during this unprecedented time and it is beneficial to have support through a friendly and familiar voice from Loyalist,” he said. “Students should never feel alone.”
For more information on the free, short-term, confidential counselling services available to Loyalist students, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Student Government is also providing 24/7 mental health support through the My SSP program.