New centre includes student advocacy, counselling and psychological services
Concordia has introduced a new “wellness centre” on the downtown campus, a move intended to increase accessibility to vital student services.
The centre, which opened to the public on Nov. 13, is on the third floor of the GM building. It houses five offices that offer services related to wellness, health and accessibility, including the International Students Office, Counselling and Psychological Services, the Student Advocacy Office and the Access Centre for Students with Disabilities (ACSD).
“The new wellness centre provides students with state-of-the-art facilities in a welcoming environment,” said Concordia spokesperson Mary-Jo Barr. “Providing a consolidated space makes the GM building an all-encompassing location for health and wellness at Concordia’s downtown campus.”
Before the wellness centre opened, all of these services were located in the Hall building but on different floors. Each office moved the weekend prior to opening to ensure weekday office hours would not be interrupted.
Unlike each office’s previous location, the wellness centre was specifically created with accessibility in mind. There are four elevators that can be used to access the space, and all washrooms, hallways and doorways are designed to accommodate students with reduced mobility.
Along with the new wellness centre, the GM building also houses a number of important student services, including the downtown Health Services Centre, the Office of Student Tribunals, the Student Academic Services Office and the Financial Services Office.
According to Barr, the project included multiple renovations over an eight-month period. Each office operated during regular hours at their previous locations while construction was underway in the GM building. In total, the renovations cost $3.2 million.
The construction included completely redesigning the third floor of the GM building to accommodate the offices and the students who use them. Along with accessible washrooms, the centre also has automatic doors to assist students with mobility issues.
“The space users were directly involved in the planning of this new space to ensure it meets their needs and the needs of the university community,” Barr said.
The wide range of services available at the wellness centre include mental health workshops from Counselling and Psychological Services, tutoring and academic advising available at the ACSD, and assistance with visas and study permits from the International Students Office. Students who have faced charges under the Concordia Academic Code of Conduct or the Code of Rights and Responsibilities may also receive free and confidential advice from the Student Advocacy Office. Additionally, the wellness centre will be a space for students to take accommodated or rescheduled exams.
While each office operates separately, many of the services provided are related and utilized by the same students. For example, students with disabilities may require both exam accommodations, counselling sessions and assistance from the ACSD, making the wellness centre a convenient location.
Angela Ghadban, the interim manager at the International Students Office, said the new location is a helpful change for the office.
“I see the move to the GM building […] as a positive move,” he said. “The new space is bright, clean and functional, and we have access to amazing seminar rooms that we will use for our student activities, including our social events and our orientations.”
Ghadban added that sharing the space with Health Services, the ACSD and counselling services makes it easy for International Students Office employees to refer new students to these services.
“We can walk them right over to the services they need,” Ghadban said. “The GM location is very central for the SGW campus so, in terms of access for our international students, I think it is a big plus.”
According to Barr, while similar services are offered on Concordia’s Loyola campus, there are no plans to build a similar wellness centre there at this time, as these services are already located in the same building.
Photos by Alex Hutchins