B!KE
Statement House
Theatre Trent 2022
Arthur News School of Fish
Illustration by Lindsay Olivieri.

Searching for Mental Health Resources as a Trent Student

Written by
Emi Habel
and
and
April 4, 2022
Searching for Mental Health Resources as a Trent Student
Illustration by Lindsay Olivieri.

Imagine something with me.

This is your first year at Trent University. Maybe it’s pre-pandemic, maybe not, but you’re starting university regardless and that alone will always be scary. I’m kidding, of course, I just have crippling ruminating thoughts. You’ve made it out of a vortex called high school, with a mild case of early-onset adulthood that you find both titillating and apocalyptic. You’ve heard Trent has great trails nearby, so you decide to Google the address of one of them, only to be redirected at every link you try. You ask a couple friends, but none can really explain where to find the trails. You almost find one, but some barriers are blocking the entrance. You finally find one that’s not barricaded off, but it doesn’t really live up to your expectations. Discouraged, you decide that maybe the trails aren’t worth bothering with, or that maybe they weren’t created for someone like you.

Unfortunately, searching for mental health resources as a student can feel like this sometimes. For me, it felt like someone put a sack over my head, spun me around a few times, released me into the Wildlife Sanctuary trail and told me to find the exit. It’s doable (questionably), but at the cost of an unnecessarily difficult process. 

Trent University lists their mental health resources here and provides an overview of their services here, but for the sake of brevity and peace of mind, I wanted to compile a list of student-tested resources people can refer to when looking for mental health services. I’ll be dividing resources into three categories:

  1. Fantastic (Local) Beasts (Resources) and Where to Find Them
  2. What the Hell Can I Do With my Student Health Benefits?
  3. The Uneven Road to Finding BIPOC Resources
  4. Becoming “That Girl” (but it’s programs and resources that help supplement your mental health)

If I can accomplish anything with this guide, I hope it’s to help you not feel alone, resourceless,  financially in ruins or frustrated at the missed opportunities you weren’t aware of.

1. Fantastic (Local) Beasts (Resources) and Where to Find Them: Mental Health Resources at Trent and in Nogojiwanong

1.1 Trent Counselling Services (TCS) 

Trent’s counselling services offer quite a few services, ranging from teletherapy, Brief Therapy, Single Session Therapy (SST), special care models and specialized care for BIPOC and 2SLGBTQ+. The majority of the services end up overlapping, but I will be defining each one separately through a breakdown of all services offered by the TCS.

Brief Therapy is exactly what it sounds like; short-term therapy that focuses on specific problems, goals and solutions. Students meet with therapists to identify their concerns and needs, after which they are directed to follow the Stepped Care Model or other appropriate services. Unfortunately, students are not able to access longer or long-term therapy with a counsellor at Trent. There is also Single Session Therapy (SST), a 60-90 minute appointment in which students have access to “support around targeted concerns such as roommate conflict, relationship challenges, exam stress, nervousness, sadness, and more”. Trent claims that SST can also help students who are looking for support in identifying their concerns and what resources are available to them. I can definitely see this being the smarter choice over internalizing problems or venting to a friend who doesn’t have the energy.

To request service at TCS, you can fill out the Request for Counselling Services form or contact them directly at counselling@trentu.ca

Specialized Care connects students with a therapist who specializes in providing care and support to BIPOC and S2LGBTQ+ individuals. Jeffrey Reffo is the main 2SLGBTQ+ counsellor at the TCS, and if you wish to access their support you can complete the Request for Consultation form and discuss this with the counsellor who is assigned to you, who will then assist in connecting you with them. Through the same form, students can request a session with Cayo Whyte, Trent’s primary BIPOC counsellor, to walk through different mental health issues. According to TCS, their services geared towards BIPOC students work from an Afrocentric and Indigenous lens to facilitate a safe space for racialized students. For more BIPOC resources offered by Trent, see their list here.

The TCSA also recently announced the launch of their initiative called Keep it Bright, a light therapy lamp subsidy to help students with the purchase of a light therapy lamp. Students in need of a light therapy lamp can apply for the subsidy here.

1.2 Trent Health Services (THS)

While TCS focuses specifically on mental health, Trent Health Services is multidisciplinary and offers students various health services. The Medical clinic on the Symons Campus hosts a psychiatrist one day a week for students who aren’t currently connected to a family physician or have access to psychiatric services to provide help with diagnoses, prescription management and referrals to other services and specialists. 

To book an appointment with a psychiatrist or any other health services, call 705-748-1481 to speak with a Medical Office Secretary. They specify that appointments can’t be made by leaving a voicemail, sending an email or walking in-person. 

1.3 Student Assistance Program (SAP) by Aspiria

I’m not sure if a lot of people know this, but Trent actually has a partnership with Aspiria to provide students counselling outside of school with eligible healthcare providers. SAP enables students to receive care from trained professionals based on the individual needs of the student as opposed to a specific amount of sessions. Many clinics and mental health professionals throughout Nogojiwanong offer this plan, and although most don’t advertise it directly on their website, sending a prospective clinic a quick introduction from your Trent email and asking if they offer SAP can be a good place to start.

1.4 Counselling at the First Peoples House of Learning (FPHL)

FPHL supports Indigenous students through counselling and various ways to engage in healing through “capacity building, processing feelings, and connecting to self.” Students who are looking to explore their options can contact fphlculturalcounsellor@trentu.ca or call (705) 748-1011. The page doesn’t mention the delivery of counselling (i.e. teletherapy or in-person), but it does encourage Indigenous students to stop by and have a chat or to smudge. The Nogojiwanong Friendship Centre is also a great place to check out, as they offer counselling to Indigenous individuals to strengthen a Good Mind and “promote mental health and well-being for urban Indigenous people.” 

1.5 Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC)

I have had rather interesting experiences at this hospital, ranging from being told I “looked like I was too smart to have a [mental health] crisis like that” (while I was, in fact, having a crisis like that), to being influenced to leave the ER because I would supposedly have a place in their out-patient program, only to be – and I mean this as professionally as I can – blue-balled when I called the following day, still in crisis. So, not the coolest place, not the vibe. But, it would be in bad conscience for me to leave out this very critical part of mental healthcare – crisis and interventive care. When push comes to shove, no amount of resourcing can pull you out of harm’s way and the best thing to do is call it in and get yourself to a safe place. 

Here is a list of relevant clinical programs offered at PRHC:

  • Adult Outpatient Program
  • Adult Psychiatric Inpatient Unit
  • Psychosis Assessment and Treatment Clinic (PATC)
  • Psychiatric Assessment Services for the Elderly (PASE)* 
  • Eating Disorder Clinic
  • Rapid Access Addiction Medicine Clinic

*And no, before you wonder how I forgot to leave this out mid-copy-pasting–I did not, because mature students are badasses, especially if they’re reading the likes of Arthur. That being said, please keep in mind that the cut-off age for the Student Health Benefits at Trent is 70 (PASE appears to be covered under OHIP, though). 

You can call 705-743-2121 to ask about their services or email info@prhc.on.ca for more information (Nogojiwanong-wide).

Illustration by Lindsay Olivieri.

2. What the Hell Can I Do With my Student Health Benefits?

Trent students taking 60% or more of a full course load (or 40% if you have a permanent disability) are automatically enrolled in and billed for Health and Dental plans with Medavie Blue Cross. As someone who’s never had health insurance before, navigating my options, coverage and claims was a thoroughly mystifying experience. 

2.1 Psychotherapy & Psychological Services

Blue Cross provides students with an 80% refund for psychotherapy and psychological services up to $400 for the year. What does that mean? Well, with the average cost of those services sitting at anywhere from $100-200, you would only have to pay around $20-40 out of pocket per visit while Blue Cross coughs up the remaining 80%.

Realistically, though, this would only cover 2-4 sessions for the entire year (but please don't quote me on this exact math). Still, being able to have 2-4 psychological or psychotherapy services for which you pay 20% instead of 100% of the costs is pretty helpful if you ask me. You can use PsychologyToday to find Blue Cross-eligible therapists in Nogojiwanong, which also has filters for different issues and types of therapies, as well as filters to find a therapist of a specific faith, ethnicity or gender expression. The StudentVIP portal also has a look-up for eligible services. 

2.2 Prescriptions

As for prescriptions, Blue Cross also has you covered. The drug coverage varies from 60% to 100% depending on if you use generic or brand drugs and where you get your prescriptions from. Personally, I've been getting my (generic brand) prescriptions from a local pharmacy a block away from me, for which I’ve been able to claim 70% (the pharmacy can bill it to Blue Cross if you bring your Benefits Card). I had no idea about the Direct2U virtual pharmacy, though, and now I feel silly because generic brands are 100% covered–meaning you and I don’t have to pay anything. 

2.3 Extended Health Benefits (EHB)

Your student benefits also offer you Extended Health Benefits (EHB), which, in the realm of mental health, refers to psychological educational assessment/testing, ambulance services, acupuncture and massage therapy–the works(ish). The coverage for each might be minimal, but, as we’ve been reflecting on…students can’t afford choice in this economy. 

Illustration by Lindsay Olivieri.

3. The Uneven Road to Finding BIPOC Resources

As many may have read last month, Sheala McLeod, co-producer of the Black Girls Chatter podcast, wrote a telling article titled “No Black Educators” confronting not only the lack of Black educators in the school district they grew up in here in Nogojiwanong, but also at Trent. Although the article focuses predominantly on the academic side of things I believe McLeod’s points can also be applied to the mental health sectors of student life. They reference Zuhra Abawi’s analysis of this gap and the perpetuation of whiteness, in which they found that "in 2007 the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) asserted that the lack of a teacher and administrative representation that reflects the student population is a barrier to equitable and inclusive access to education." This diversity gap, as McLeod explains, is very much present today. 

How much, then, is a lack of counsellors and resources representation that reflects the student population a barrier to equitable access to mental healthcare? In her article, “School mental health ignores my Blackness,” Maleah Downton describes her experience with this inequity, saying:

As a Black student in a predominantly white space, my racial identity was present and a large component of all my experiences within the school setting, both educationally and socially. Though my school was checking all the mental health support boxes, my experience existed outside of the boxes’ constraints. There is a magnitude of racial trauma associated within educational spaces; it is both imperative and vital for schools to be spaces of nurturing and support for all students – including students of colour. 

I also recommend checking out Cheyenne Wood’s article confronting the racism present in Canadian healthcare, Ryersonian’s “​​How a lack of cultural competency in mental health care is failing BIPOC communities” and Dr. Jennifer Mullan’s work on decolonizing therapy.

As you’ve probably concluded by now, there aren’t a lot of BIPOC resources in white-centric Peterborough. I have poked around the cold corners of the internet to cut down on some of your search time, and I hope the following resources can shed some light on your road to mental healthcare as a BIPOC student at Trent. 

3.1 Healing in Colour

Healing in Colour offers a directory of BIPOC therapists who are “committed to supporting BIPOC— in all our intersections.” The directory filters therapists by province and city, language spoken and Indigenous Identities. If you use the filters to show therapists only from Ontario, you will notice most offer video sessions regardless of distance. While this might not be ideal for a lot of folks, it might be a good relief for Peterborough’s severe deficit in BIPOC services. Healing in Colour also offers resources here. They also indicate which therapists offer pro bono sessions for refugees and/or refugee claimants. 

3.2 Asian Mental Health Collective

In a similar delivery as Healing in Colour, the Asian Mental Health Collective offers a directory of Asian therapists across Canada, with options to use filters for provinces served, language spoken, ethnicity and issues/concerns. Many therapists offer virtual counselling, and there is also a wide array of resources on their website.

Although you’ll want to check on the StudentVIP portal to verify eligibility, don’t forget you can claim 80% of psychological services up to $400! 

3.3 WellNest

Based in Toronto, WellNest is a collective of racially diverse psychotherapists who offer a variety of services that are anti-oppressive, anti-racist, feminist, trauma-informed and LGBTQ+-alligned, as well as support that is culturally, religiously and linguistically appropriate. Most of their therapists seem to offer video or phone appointments, and they walk you through the process of how to connect with them if you’re a student here.

Other organizations that have compiled directories of resources geared towards BIPOC individuals include:

  1. The Mental Health Coalition
  2. Black Health Alliance
  3. Crisis Services Canada
Illustration by LIndsay Olivieri.

4. Becoming “That Girl” (but it’s programs and resources that help supplement your mental healthcare)

At the peak of my insomnia, I could stay awake for 72 hours at a time. I would stare at my ceiling for 12 hours, work my shift at Walmart for 8 hours, stare at my ceiling for another 12 hours, work for another 8 hours…you get the point. 

My doctor tried prescribing me sleeping pills, but having already formed a semi-habit to Benadryl back then, I politely declined. He handed me a “sleep hygiene sheet” that included tips like not looking at a screen before sleep, setting a routine, listening to white noise, etc. Unfortunately, I had already tried all of those things, to the point where my evening looked like a 2014-esque “Sleep Routine: Get Ready For Bed With Me” YouTube video (à la Juicystar07, who I desperately hope you remember). 

A year later, I finally took the plunge and started taking every serotonin-deficiant’s favourite trial medication: Zoloft. For the first time in months, I could actually fall asleep. I took another look at the sleep hygiene sheet my doctor had given me, tried some of the sleeping “tips” again and discovered they finally accomplished what they were meant to do. For that to happen, I needed treatment and medication to be able to implement those “self-care” tips. I needed to be able to inhale for the oxygen mask to work.

So, if you’ve found a treatment plan that works for you and you’re looking for resources to supplement it, or you’re looking for resources that don’t demand as much time and commitment as the other ones, I’ve got you.

4.1 I.M. Well

Although I.M. Well claims to offer counselling, I filed an intake form three times and never heard back. But, their app is actually a really useful tool that has helped me calm down in the past, and they have a live chat option where you can discuss what you’re going through and see what the best strategy to deal with it would be.

4.2 Therapy Assisted Online (TAO)

TAO offers courses, workshops, group content, self-guided study programs and or treatment plans. They have over 150 interactive sessions, as well as practice tools, journaling, and mindfulness exercises. 

4.3 Peer Support

A program at Trent, Peer Support creates a “warm and welcoming online space for all Trent students to receive support from their (trained) peers,” whether you need to vent about a bad day or are recovering from a break-up.

***

I hope our journey through the treacherous trails of mental healthcare was insightful and useful to you. I am grateful that discussions around mental healthcare have progressed over the last two decades, but there are still numerous barriers in place. Let us remember that we’re part of a collective of students who have the ability to make the burden lighter for each other -  if we remember that we have an active role in dismantling racism, ableism and classism. It’s not easy out there, but maybe, by clearing the path behind us from the roots, rocks and potholes encumbering the way, we can mutually work to create a different journey.

B!KE
Statement House
Theatre Trent 2022
Arthur News School of Fish
Written By
Sponsored
B!KE
Statement House
Theatre Trent 2022
Arthur News School of Fish

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A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

"Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system."
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