Student development counsellors Kate Robertson and Melissa Currie bring different educational and work experiences to their counselling roles at Mount Allison, but both say they were drawn to work with young adults in university.
“We know that this is the age group where mental health concerns often present themselves and it can be humbling being at ground zero when students are working through this for the first time,” Currie says.
After completing her undergraduate arts degree at the University of Guelph, Currie worked in a psychiatric unit and became passionate about mental health advocacy. Social work seemed like the perfect fit. She went on to do a Bachelor of Social Work at the University of Manitoba and a Master’s of Social Work at McGill. She worked in community mental health in Moncton before joining the Wellness Centre at Mount Allison.
Robertson studied psychology at UPEI, completed the child and youth care worker program at Holland College, and then a Master’s in Counselling at Acadia. She spent time working with the Ottawa School Board and group homes before joining the counselling team at Mount Allison this past summer.
“I really enjoy working with university students because they are just starting out and they are eager to learn,” Robertson says.
Both Currie and Robertson see five to six students a day for private appointments. The wait time for an appointment is currently a week and a half, compared to the average eight month waiting period for community programs.
New to the Wellness Centre this semester is after-hours walk-in appointments on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5-8 p.m. Both counsellors say this helped speed up their wait times and cut down on appointment no shows.
Beginning December 4 for the exam period, extended walk-in hours will be available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.- 4 p.m.
“Being able to see a counsellor that day is really helpful,” says Currie. “We are trying to get out of the box with traditional therapy and this allows students to see us when they are having the issue, instead of days later.”
While many of the students the counsellors work with have received counselling or have accessed other services throughout their life, the pair say they are available to talk to anyone who needs someone to listen or offer advice.
“Everybody needs help sometimes,” says Currie. “There is no such thing as total resilience. You don’t have to commit to anything, you can just come in for a chat and see what you think.”
Both say something that helps them deal with the stresses of the day is having pets. Currie has a dog named Stevie and Robertson has two cats, Stella and Summer.
They also have each other for support.
“We work really well as a team,” says Robertson. “We lean on each other.”
Currie and Robertson’s offices are located in the Wellness Centre on the ground floor of the Wallace McCain Student Centre. You can book an appointment by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org, calling 364-2163, or dropping in to the Wellness Centre Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., beginning December 4.
PHOTO CAPTION (L-R): Kate Robertson and Melissa Currie