By Nazeefa Ahmed, December 13 2023—
Heart Body Mind Psychological and Assessment Services is offering no-cost therapy sessions to post-secondary students virtually or in person with a graduate intern therapist sponsored by Meg Hasek-Watt, a registered psychologist, supervisor and founder of the clinic.
Students also can receive lowered-cost Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and trauma assessments for $450. The assessment provides a comprehensive report with mood, trauma and ADHD measures. The regular cost for the assessment is $1500.
In an interview with the Gauntlet, Hasek-Watt shared how her past research on university students motivates her to provide services to students transitioning into adulthood.
“My thesis research was on the lived experience of young adults with chronic pain and chronic illness,” said Hasek-Watt.
“So much information came out of that transitional time of life, of leaving home, going to university. If you left home or are from high school and transitioning into university post-secondary life, it’s a time of big change [and] big identity development,” Hasek-Watt continued.
Hasek-Watt also describes how the current economic instability and housing crisis have an effect on student mental health and hopes that the decreased cost will encourage students to reach out for support.
“Mental health is so much more than our feelings and our thoughts. Calgary has a huge housing crisis that’s stressful. Students want to study at university but maybe can’t go there because [they] can’t find housing,” said Hasek-Watt.
She shares her lived experience of living with anxiety as a student and how that led to her current work and passion for helping students by intervening early.
“I myself am an advocate for destigmatizing mental health,” said Hasek-Watt. “I suffered extreme anxiety in undergrad and in my masters I saw psychiatric, I saw counselling support [and] I was on medication.”
“That’s why this service is available for students and other folks. This can be where we can step in to do interventions, stabilize, and then continue on to do maintenance,” said Hasek-Watt.
Outside of clinics, students that are taking Alberta Student Aid also have many financial resources offered for mental health. There is a $3500 grant for a psychoeducational assessment for diagnosing a learning disability. A $2800 grant is available to students with any DSM-5-TR diagnosis, which is a standard classification of mental health disorders used by medical professionals, including anxiety, ADHD and PTSD.
Students who fill out a disability verification form and upload it to their student aid portal may be eligible to receive more funding and accommodations.
Hasek-Watt describes how many students don’t even know that these supports are there for them.
“You might have available resources, but if they’re not accessible they might as well not exist,” said Hasek-Watt. “The money is available, but they haven’t told anyone how to access it.”
More information about the River West Therapy Collective can be found on their website. Hasek-Watt’s private practice as well as the student aid mental health support can be found on their respective websites as well.