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The Wellness Education Centre

by Crystal Lamb | October 17, 2016

Meet Melanie-Anne Atkins, Wellness Coordinator (far left) and the student-staff members at the Wellness Education Centre, who are focused on providing health and wellness resources and tips to Western students.

Students seeking health and wellness support and resources can now find the help they’re looking for thanks to the friendly staff and ‘no wrong’ door policy at the new Wellness Education Centre (WEC).

The WEC, which recently opened in the bottom level of the University Community Centre, is a collaboration between Western’s Student Experience and Student Health Services where students can access mental health and wellness resources and programming, nutrition information and advice, and sexual violence prevention education and survivors’ support, all in a central location. Funded by Student Experience and a private donor, the WEC’s mandate is to provide help for undergraduate and graduate students, but anyone seeking guidance or resources is welcome.

“What we’ve found is that we’re really good at providing reactive services for when students are in crisis but we wanted to also work on those tips that students can take away to promote their own wellness,” explained Melanie-Anne Atkins, BEd’10, MEd’12, PhD’16, Program Coordinator at WEC. “My job is to see how students can make their lives better and do what I can to make those tools available to students and to the faculty and staff who might be helping them.”

Since opening in January 2016, the WEC’s staff – comprised of between nine to 15 student staff members and volunteers – has provided services to nearly 500 students, said Atkins, who is responsible for creating and facilitating training and workshops related to mental health, as well as for running the WEC.

“So far, the response has been amazing. Students come in and say to us, ‘You get it.’ They appreciate that we’re here to help,” explained Atkins, whose PhD research focused on investigating cooperative ways to decrease the stigma of mental illness in schools. “I used resources like these when I was a graduate student and many of those lessons helped me throughout my studies and in my life going forward. Accessing these resources can only improve and enhance the academic experience for students.”

Staff at the WEC receive extensive and ongoing training on how to locate resources in the massive online database and how to connect those seeking support with the right services. “Because of the attitude our student-staff have and the fact they’re not scared or intimidated – people tend to calm down just talking to them,” Atkins said. “A lot of people have found us because they’ve been turned away from other places. We don’t do that here. It’s a safe space and we’re willing to help no matter what it is.”

For more information about the WEC, visit

This article appeared in the 2016 edition of Western's Parent Connection
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