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Written by Karey Meisner

Where have I been you might be asking yourself?

Well, the short version is that I have held a position at the University of Canterbury's Health Centre since mid-2017. In the role of Counsellor at the Health Centre I have been doing a lot including counselling, developing/presenting workshops, and contributing to a culture/policy of wellness in tertiarysettings. And it has been a learning curve. I knew that students experience stress but I had underestimatd the number of students regardless of the level of study (undergraduate or graduate) feel the pressure from ongoing demand to perform academically. My learning was how each of us has our own capacity to cope, signs of not coping well, and coping response. I found it valuable to explore this with students so that each follow their unique coping plan to follow. 

At a more macro level, counselling in the tertiary sector is under pressure. The ratio of counsellors to students is 1:3000 if the university in question has other student support services (most do). If this seems like a high ration, I would agree. I wonder whether it is sufficent enough with the increasing mental health issues and emerging chronic risk (self-harm, eating disorders, suicide risk etc). I hope the ANZSSA (Australia New Zealand Student Services Association), the professional organisation for student support staff in the post-secondary education sector, reviews their 2010 Standards Document in the near future as it seems outdated. To balance this, I found the focus on wellness in university settings across New Zealand as inspirational. I think Tertiary Wellbeing Aotearoa New Zealand are important and have already made big strides in supporting universities and staff to be wellness driven.

Anyway, I will now have to leave it to the fine group of tertiary counsellors in New Zealand to consider as I have now left the counsellign position to start a teaching position in the Master's of Counselling program at the University of Canterbury which I'm both excited and very nervous about. As it is part-time position, I am  increasing private practice days to include Monday and Thursdays.

See you soon!

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