While the COVID-19 pandemic brought “unprecedented times” for everyone, students at every age were (and are) especially impacted. Many students shifted from classroom to online learning and began spending more time alone, isolated indoors. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this resulted in reports of increased anxiety and fatigue.
For some students, limited access to on-campus services may have caused additional distress. Klinic Community Health’s University of Winnipeg (U of W) location reopened in January after being intermittently closed during earlier stages of the pandemic.
Rachel Klassen Huebner is the manager of Clinical Health Services at Klinic Community Health. The clinic offers medical appointments, general health information and workshops. Klassen Huebner describes Klinic as a “primary-care clinic” staffed mostly by nurse practitioners. They help people who need access to birth control, STI testing, mental-health services and care for diabetes and blood-pressure issues.
While the Klinic is currently short-staffed, Klassen Huebner says appointments are usually available within a few days. “At this point, you’re able to be seen at least within a day or two of when you come into the clinic,” she says.
Virika Mehta is a student in her final year at the U of W. The lapse in many campus services only added to the sense of isolation and uncertainty she felt while studying from home.
“It was really hard for me to cope with (my) anxiety, depression and PTSD, as my main resource for help was taken away from me,” Mehta says. “It was difficult to find resources on my own, because half the time I couldn’t understand my symptoms or triggers. It took a lot of hard work and patience to keep myself together during COVID.”
While Mehta praises the services she’s received from Klinic on Campus, her one complaint is their limited staff.
“One thing I would change is the amount of counsellors on campus, so that it is more accessible to everyone and there is less wait time in between sessions,” she says.
During the 2021-22 academic year, a recent study by the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations found that a staggering three-quarters of students reported experiencing negative effects on their mental health due to the pandemic.
In January, when classes moved online again, Klinic chose to remain open. Klassen Huebner describes how the choice to remain open was influenced by student requests.
“We still had the service running, because we noticed when the service was closed that students were still trying to access us here at our Sherbrook location. We knew the demand was still there. We knew the students, even though they were at home, (that) they still had health needs that needed to be addressed,” she says.
“We just wanted to be able to build the resource back where it needs to be, which is right at the heart of (our) community.”
Located on the first floor of the Duckworth Centre, Klinic is once again able to offer services on campus. Students, staff and faculty can schedule appointments by calling (204) 786-9496 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in Volume 77, Number 04 of The Uniter (September 29, 2022)