Around the corner from the bookstore is the Health and Counselling Centre. It’s not well known to the students at UTM, possibly because most students commute. But the centre does much more behind the scenes than you’d think.
The HCC was created when UTM opened in 1967. Back then, it went by a different name: the University Health Service. It had was one full-time registered nurse, and a local doctor came in for a few hours each week.
Much has changed since then. Allison Burnett, the director of the HCC, says, “[The Centre] moved to its current location in 1973 and today is staffed by a full-time director, three part-time nurses, five part-time family physicians, one part-time psychiatrist, two administrative staff, one part-time dietitian, three counsellors, and a health education coordinator. We also have a team of approximately 40 students within the health education program.”
The HCC offers year-round service through the fees it collects from student tuition. The government covers the cost of the doctors through insurance plans such as OHIP. Most days, the HCC has two nurses, two doctors, and two counsellors on hand to respond to students’ needs.
Some of the most common occasions for student visits are colds, influenza, STI testing, and birth control prescriptions. Burnett says there’s an even bigger trend: “One of the biggest areas is for mental health-related concerns. [These include] stress, anxiety, and depression.”
The HCC has five student-led teams to educate the campus about health-related issues, including mental health. These teams run workshops, update HCC’s social media (such as their Facebook account, “UTM Health & Counselling Centre”), and collaborate with campus groups and clubs.
“Most days of the week you find a peer health event or display on campus. We use a peer-based approach for health education; it’s been well researched that individuals are more receptive to this information from their peers,” says Burnett.
What should you do if you get sick and the HCC is closed? Burnett says that if it’s an emergency, you should contact Campus Police, and to go a walk-in clinic in non-emergency cases. The closest walk-in clinic is in South Common Mall.