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Need someone to talk to? Mentor Assistance Through Education and Support, more popularly known as MATES, is your on-campus student peer-support counselling service.
“A MATE will utilize their skills to help students find strategies they can utilize and discover the next steps they can take to help them feel at ease with what they may be facing,” said MATES coordinator Megan Wright.
The peer-support volunteers at MATES go through an intensive interview selection process and receive extensive training in mentorship by clinical psychologists from UW Counselling Services. These students can provide support with academic issues, social and relationship difficulties, coping skill development, transitional challenges to university life, and challenges adapting to culture. Counselling is also available in many different languages.
“The best part about being with MATES has been the overwhelming sense of community and belonging that’s been added to my life,” said Jordann Hunsperger, MATES coordinator. “I was a very isolated in my first and second years at UWaterloo, but after finding MATES, my connections multiplied quite quickly. I am so thankful to have been given the opportunity to be a peer-support volunteer, executive, and now coordinator, of such an amazing group of individuals, who share the same passion as me to provide for the mental health needs for the students on campus.”
While conversations on mental health are becoming more commonplace, MATES understands that it can be difficult to seek help. Booking an appointment with MATES is super easy and stress-free, and can be done entirely online through their appointment booking form or by emailing them.
“While our service strives to encourage students to use our confidential and safe-space, we recognize that seeking any kind of mental health support may be uncomfortable and/or intimidating,” said Jordann Hunsperger, who is also a coordinator of MATES. “For students who may be shy about seeking peer-support from MATES, we suggest doing some research into exactly what our service provides, and what you can expect from coming to an appointment. This may help students understand the types of topics that can be discussed in a MATES session.”
MATES also hosts de-stress events for students such as Study Paws on Tour events where therapy dogs will be available to interact with students. These events are available at Renison’s Dunker Family Lounge on March 12 from 5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. and April 5 from 12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Interested in becoming a MATE? Applications are open now until March 24 on LEADS for spring 2019. No prior training is needed as MATES will provide training for successful applicants at the start of the term.
Stay tuned on their Facebook page [external link] for the announcement of an upcoming event next month!