Founded in 1972, the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union Help Centre continues to provide a diverse set of programs and services to the U of S community that enhance the student experience on campus.
The USSU Help Centre is one of five centres operated by the USSU that provide a positive and friendly place that is open to everyone. It is well-known for providing exam files and resources. This summer, the centre moved from the Arts Tunnel to room 105 of the Memorial Union Building. The USSU made the decision so that the Help, Pride and Women’s Centres could be in the same place.
Crystal Lau, an alumna of the university and the Help Centre’s co-ordinator, shares how the Centre does more than provide exam files.
“A lot of people email me about exam files as well so that’s part of my job. Internally, I do a lot of planning of events. For example, in September, there’s a volunteer orientation training retreat that goes for all the volunteers in all the USSU centres and I am also planning Mental Health Awareness Week,” Lau said
Scheduled to run in October, Mental Health Awareness Week is organized by the Help Centre in conjunction with the Peer Health Mentors and Disability Services for Students, among others. Lau will also plan A.S.I.S.T., Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, which is suicide talk training at the end of October. She hopes to organize periodic campus orientation tours for students who miss the first orientation session.
The Centre’s programs and services also include providing peer support, the Eating Disorder Support Group, the Mood Disorder Support Group and suicide related programming. The Centre offers free resources such as hygienic products, campus and city maps, newspapers and magazines. Lau adds that the Centre no longer provides free phone services, but that students can call at any time during open hours for assistance.
“Day-to-day-wise, we provide peer support in any kind: sexual assaults, homework, school, academic, family, relationships, anything related to emotions,” Lau said. “[Students] can chill out here. They can come in for help or just come in to say, ‘Hi.’ We also provide a lot of information from academic stuff, from where to go in university for what, where to go in Saskatoon, whatever they need.”
Besides academic and social assistance, the Centre can also provide referrals to the pharmacy in order to decrease wait times for students, though they are unable to provide referrals for medical doctors.
The Centre is open from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., from September to April. Students can drop by and ask for help anytime. They can also get involved with the Centre by volunteering.
“[Volunteers] can also offer peer support and they will be trained by Vicki Herman from the student health counselling during our volunteer orientation training retreat … That’s one kind of volunteer work. Another kind would be like if they want to be more involved in planning and stuff,” Lau said.
Students who are interested in volunteering can grab a volunteer application from the Centre or online.
“They will have to either email me the application or drop it off, and then I’ll have a quick interview with them just so I could get to know them, let them see what they’re getting involved with so I know who I’m dealing with, just things like that and then go from there.”
Photo: Jeremy Britz / Photo Editor