Counselling and Zen Dens report, March 2020 - April 2021
Through remote psychotherapy and interactive virtual programming, Counselling and Psychological Services and the Zen Dens wellness program have offered a continuum of online mental health support since March 2020. Our teams worked in collaboration and with partners to provide or connect students with appropriate mental health services for their specific needs and circumstances.
Soon after Montreal entered lockdown, Counselling and Psychological Services (CPS) immediately shifted to remote counselling for all of its current clients, and by Fall 2020, our team of psychologists and psychotherapists started offering counselling sessions to all eligible students in a manner that was consistent with the Order of Psychologists of Quebec (OPQ) guidelines.
In addition to often-seen clinical presentations such as anxiety and depression, counsellors offered support for concerns associated with the pandemic, such as challenges in the transition to online learning, social isolation, uncertainty, and grief during and/or because of COVID-19. To assure the quality and confidentiality of virtual counselling, the CPS team:
Introduced a new digital platform that was approved by the OPQ for highly-secure video calls between therapists and clients.
Introduced a new secure digital platform for paperless documentation of confidential counselling sessions, with the capacity to share information among counselors.
Updated consent forms and other critical documents to reflect the new reality of virtual counselling. All documents were in accordance with pandemic guidelines for distance psychotherapy.
Coordinated with the Concordia Library to offer private spaces for counselling appointments should patients not have access to privacy in their homes.
Collaborated with external partners to better support students not residing in Quebec and to complement counselling services.
The CPS team also continued ongoing projects and partnerships to improve mental health services at Concordia and extend offerings to more students. From March 2020 onwards, CPS:
Collaborated in discussions to improve access to ADHD diagnosis, and medical management and/or access to accommodations if required.
Partnered in developing a program to offer specialised case management services for students at risk.
Co-developed a new Health and Wellness hub website, which brings together mental health services and support for students around the world.
Provided counsellor-led workshops to other student services departments.
Virtual Zen Dens
The Zen Dens have been really helpful for me in getting through my circumstances and degree program. Concordia student
The Zen Den team developed programming to recreate the relaxed, social atmosphere of the physical Zen Dens, specifically tailored to an online format. Virtual Zen Den programming responded to feedback about the demands of online learning, including screen-fatigue and a lack of informal spaces to connect with other students.
Highly trained Peer Wellness Ambassadors offered active listening, peer support and "Study with Me" hours in student-led contexts.
Interactive x-PEER-ience programming emphasized mind-body connection and creativity, with experiences including all-levels Danc’Zen dance classes, creative arts therapies and a virtual run club.
Wellness workshops presented topics such as solitude and loneliness and time management, as well as open discussions with health and wellness professionals.
The annual Mental Health Fair was reborn as a Creative Connections campaign that welcomed special guests and speakers to discuss connection - a theme that was of critical interest to students during the pandemic. Topics included relationships and sexuality, friendships and mentorship. Excerpts of these talks are available online.
Special schedules were created for exam periods, with stress-relieving activities to help students take a social break and move their bodies.
Partnership with the Black Perspectives Office (BPO) and subsequent conversations led to the Meditation with Fimo series, a wellness discussion with BPO hosted over social media and a mentorship discussion with Michael Assiamah.
Social media outreach through the @CUstudentexperience Instagram and Facebook accounts included tips and informational videos.
A free, mailout condom campaign in partnership with Health Services provided students with condoms and information about sexual health and Concordia Health and Wellness.
Curated lists of resources and pastimes presented activities for students during pandemic measures and over university breaks, including virtual museum tours, free yoga classes and more.