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Victoria University has revealed a new wellbeing campaign for 2015, with the initiative including a poster campaign and a push to reduce waiting times for counselling Services.
Last year saw the restructuring of the counselling services’ intake process in an effort to reduce waiting times. Under the restructuring, thirty-minute consultation appointments with an intake counsellor were also introduced for those students who had not attended counselling before.
The changes have meant a reduction in waiting times for initial appointments, with Gerard Hoffman, the Manager of Student Counselling, stating that most patients are seen within two, occasionally three weeks.
Last year saw an increase of students using the counselling services from 1837 students in 2013, to 2135 in 2014.
VUWSA Welfare Vice-President Madeleine Ashton-Martyn said VUWSA has been working with the Advisory Committee for the Student Services Levy (ACSSL) towards “additional resourcing for prevention so students don’t hit that crisis point where support is required”. The ACSSL is the body that recommends to the University how the Student Services Levy is spent.
However, Hoffman pointed out that shorter waiting times were not a complete solution to improving the wellbeing of students at Victoria University. “Whilst changing our intake process has definitely significantly shortened wait times for new counselling appointments, it is not a magic answer for all the pressures that we face and at times students will still be expected to wait for follow up appointments,” he told Salient.
Similarly, Ashton-Martyn agreed that although the current wait times are “far from ideal”, there is “a lot of working being done to ensure they are reduced in the future.”
Student Health has developed a social mindfulness campaign, Connect, with the aim to reduce stress and help develop resiliency among students. The campaign has developed a range of engagement resources, posters, tips and advice brochures that will be rolled out progressively throughout 2015.
Along with the restructuring, the counselling service has also had a budget increase of 1.27 per cent, meaning it will receive a total of $1.5 million of per year.