Western has appointed Terry McQuaid – a psychologist with national leadership experience in equity, mental health and violence prevention – as its first director of student wellness and well-being.
McQuaid will lead and manage wellness education, medical and mental health, and student support and case management within the Student Experience portfolio.
“I love that Western is on the forefront of research and mental health and building on an evidence-based approach to wellness. It’s really on the leading edge of student supports,” said McQuaid, who starts Sept. 14.
McQuaid will be a key leader in integrating campus health and wellness services and implementing Western’s student mental health and wellness strategic plan.
A key part of this new role will be putting into place clear referral paths and effective systems that promote collaboration among a number of student wellness supports, including leadership and learning, sport and recreation, academic advising, residence life/residence counselling and supports and resources offered by Western’s affiliated university colleges.
“Terry is a leading expert in diversity, equity, mental health, accessibility and sexual violence prevention. She brings extensive experience which will help us as we continue to move forward with our vision for student thriving,” said Jennie Massey, associate vice-president (Student Experience).
Right now, a variety of student supports and treatments for physical and mental health and wellness exist in a number of places on campus and in residence – a structure that has sometimes led to gaps or duplication in care.
McQuaid said it’s important to have “a one-stop shop where students can get the services they need, when they need it” – a place where everyone has a sense they belong.
That also includes integrating treatment for students with a variety of concerns, whether it’s an ear infection or anxiety.
“It’s a pretty progressive way of dealing with it: that you can just walk in a door without stigma and access what you need – and because the services are all contained, there are no silos and you get access to a community of care,” McQuaid said.
The appointment comes as Western redoubles its efforts to address and support students’ physical and mental health.
This month, a $9.2-million gift from Jeff and Shelley Parr helped Western launch a unique centre dedicated to supporting students with collaborative and innovative approaches to their mental health and well-being.
The Parr Centre for Thriving will focus on programs, education and strategic initiatives to help students thrive academically and personally.
The new centre will complement Western’s ongoing investment in student mental health supports.
As part of that investment, Thames Hall is also being renovated and retrofitted (with completion expected in 2021) so students can access these services in one place.
McQuaid comes to Western from George Brown College, where she was director of anti-racism, equity and human rights services. Previous roles also included heading the University of Toronto’s personal safety, high risk and sexual violence support portfolio and serving as director of counselling and accessibility services at Seneca College.
She earned a doctor of clinical psychology and master’s of counselling psychology from Adler School of Psychology in Chicago.
New Parr Centre for Thriving at Western bolsters proactive support for student mental health, August 2020
Thriving Foundations offers new suite of student supports, July 2020
Campus meets challenge to support students, April 2020
One-stop mental health support centre in the works, March 2018