The University of Regina Psychology Students Association
“Growing a student community of healthy minds” is a phrase that could (and should) apply to any student organization, but the Psychology Students Association (PSA) at the University of Regina has taken pride in making that phrase their goal this year. From a complete website overhaul to building a mentorship program from scratch, they’ve been busy at work since May attempting to bridge as many gaps and provide as many opportunities as possible.
The PSA for the 2020-2021 school year is made up of eighteen undergraduate psychology students from both the art and science programs who are using their ambition to make a difference. One of their first steps in going above and beyond this year has been to compile a list of local mental health resources that can be found on their website (ureginapsa.org) under the “support” tab. While some of these resources are specifically student-directed, they’ve also taken care to list many other local sources that can be accessed by anyone needing help in areas like addiction, sexual health, or suicidal thoughts.
Shae Sackman, the PSA’s president, was particularly passionate about making these resources available and saw it as part of a wider ethical responsibility as “a steward of the profession.” It’s not uncommon for members of the PSA to be approached by students requesting mental health resources, which in the past has been hard to accommodate as Saskatchewan’s mental health resources are quite scattered. Compiling some of the best-established resources into one list has made it easier for the PSA to direct people to the organization that will best help them, and this list is publicly accessible on their website at all times.
Shelby Leis, vice-president of the PSA, mentioned that in prior years the PSA was seen as more of an exclusive social group, an image that this year’s PSA doesn’t identify with. To break that perception and become “an actual, viable source for people,” an emphasis on sharing knowledge has been established. All eighteen members have a wide variety of connections and interests which, when combined, result in incredible new opportunities like one of the PSA’s most recently created resources – the Psych Lounge.
Put simply, the Psych Lounge is a virtual hang-out space for people, psychology students or not. While the PSA would like to have a physical office to visit, coronavirus has pushed that goal back a ways, so the Psych Lounge is a temporary solution that’s accessible and inclusive, offered via Zoom call weekly, on alternating Tuesday or Thursday evenings. A schedule list is available on the PSA’s website, as are the Zoom links you’ll need if you’d like to attend one. The Psych Lounge is always attended and housed by PSA members who are more than happy to share study tips, tutor, give advice on course selection, or inform students on the teaching styles of various professors so you can find one that suits your learning style.
Along with being a great space to hang out and visit with like-minded peers, the Psych Lounge will be used to host the events that the PSA has in the works. While there’s nothing set in stone quite yet, I would highly recommend keeping your eye on the calendar located on their website, or following the PSA on instagram (@ureginapsa) to stay updated on the more socially-focused events. Sackman and Leis said the PSA has been working with local mental health organizations and professors from the U of R to provide presentations on everything from potential volunteer experiences to talks on healthy coping strategies and much, much more. These events are inspired by the PSA’s devotion to offering students as many opportunities as possible while supporting them in every area possible. They want to openly and honestly address issues from an anti-colonial, anti-racist, inclusive, and radically accepting perspective.
A complaint raised by many psychology students concerns the pressures of trying to get into the honours program, which is competitive for psychology students at the University of Regina. Sackman commented on this growing, shared mindset that if you’re not good enough for honours, you’re not good enough for psychology – it’s simply not true. However, the honours program is often presented by professors as the only way to progress in academia; this is concerning for many students, as there’s normally no more than a couple dozen students accepted into the honours program for psychology each year. This, along with a lack of representation among faculty, has led to many people leaving the program because they don’t see a future for themselves using this path and can’t identify with those who have.
In part to address this, the PSA has chosen to highlight alternative uses for psychology degrees in their newsletter, “Pscholastic,” which can be found on their website. It’s filled with writings by members of the PSA, graduates from the undergraduate psychology program, and student contributors. If you’re a student looking to contribute writing, an opinion, or even artwork, email email@example.com to get more information on making your voice heard.
Another recent development rolled out by the PSA this fall has been their mentorship program, “Peer-to-Peer,” where first and second year undergraduate psychology students are paired with an undergraduate psychology student in at least their third year to have as a resource. It’s difficult to connect naturally with students in further years of study, especially with our current remote learning format, and they hope that through this program, students will take on the PSA’s mindset of sharing knowledge and experience for the benefit of others. The mentor-mentee pairings are made at the start of every semester; the pairs for the Fall 2020 semester have already been set, but if the program is of interest to you there will be an application process in early January for the Winter 2021 semester. Any questions about this program, or other programs mentioned in this article may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.