mental health

This is the third in a contributor column by Zoe Lauckner. Check back next issue for the latest in Mental Health issues.

Last issue’s Mental Health Matters column touched on the topic of self-care—an intentional, self-nurturing practice aimed at taking care of one’s own psychosocial needs. Self-care takes insight and awareness of self—skills that are not necessarily innate, but can most definitely be learned through practice and dedication. Another aspect of self-care is the ability to recognize when you’ve had all that you can handle on your own and when you need some extra support.

We are at a point in the school term where stressors are high, and students are more likely to be in need of immediate counselling rather than looking at long-term therapy options. For this reason, I am going to be exploring the crisis counselling options in the Nanaimo area, and next issue I’ll touch on the long-term therapy side of the Harbour City. I think it is important to be aware of what the local area has to offer in the case that you or someone you know is in need of immediate support.

So what is a “crisis”? The term runs the gamut of emotional experiences, but ultimately it refers to one’s emotional response to a situation. For the purposes of this article and in spreading the word about crisis services in Nanaimo, let’s consider a crisis an emotional response that feels too extreme for you to handle on your own, or with the social supports you have in place. If you’re experiencing a crisis, where do you go for help? Here are some options for you to consider.

VIU’s Counselling Department has urgent sessions available every day. You can go in on a walk-in basis, let them know you’re in need of immediate assistance, and they can get you in to see a counsellor as soon as possible. These services are free of charge, and I myself have accessed crisis counselling through VIU during a tumultuous breakup that rattled my school life and found it to be very helpful. The Counselling Department at VIU is open from Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. and is located on the third floor of bldg. 200.

If, for whatever reason, you’re unable to access the VIU service—perhaps you’re uncomfortable seeking services on campus, or perhaps their crisis spot is booked for the day already—Island Health’s Access/Crisis Services, located at the Brooks Landing Mall, offers walk-in crisis counselling from 10 a.m.–6:15 p.m., Monday to Friday, no appointment necessary. They can also connect you to appropriate mental health and substance abuse services if need be, and these services are all free-of-charge. For more information, visit their website or call 250-739-5710.

Life doesn’t always throw you a curve ball during banker’s hours. The Vancouver Island Crisis Line offers a number of services, including a 24 hour/seven day a week crisis phone line (1-888-494-3888), crisis chat (online), as well as crisis text services. Their volunteers are well-trained to support an array of situations, and I would highly recommend this service if you’re unable to access any of the in-person services. For more information, visit their website

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, or you believe they’re at risk of hurting themselves or others, please call 9-1-1.

Our society is inarguably individualistic in nature and ripe with stigma around seeking support. I challenge you to see counselling in a different light, to break the stigma that we should be strong enough to handle life stressors on our own. Vulnerability takes courage and strength, and we can all help to make the shift from an individualistic society toward a community of support.

Next issue, I’ll be touching on different therapy options for those interested in more long-term options.

Stay sane(ish) VIU! Until next time…