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News article

Civic leaders join key figures in counselling and mental health for York St John Communities Centre opening celebration 

Published: 12 October 2023

  •   Featured
Five smartly dressed people outside a brick building

Image (l-r) Prof. Lynne Gabriel; Lady Mayoress Joy Cullick; Lord Mayor Chris Cullick; Prof. Karen Bryan; Prof. Rachel Wicaksono

York St John Communities Centre has formally opened with a celebration of York St John University’s decades of work and research in counselling and mental health. 

Counselling has been taught at York St John for more than 35 years. In 1987, the first course was launched, making the University one of the very first in the country to offer the subject. The work in this area became public facing in 2016 with the launch of the innovative and highly successful Counselling & Mental Health Centre (CMHC). The CMHC name was changed to York St John Communities Centre in 2022 to better reflect the growing portfolio of public facing services that the centre provides. 

The Centre is now operating out of new expanded premises on Clarence Street in York. This new one-stop-shop of public facing services is designed to help to meet increasing need for mental health support in the community.  

Services are led by academics, supported by volunteers and placement students, all under one roof. It is a safe and inclusive space and offers a portal through which mental health and wellbeing support, community projects, and a newly planted sensory garden can be accessed. 

The opening celebration was held this week in the York St John Creative Centre with specially curated displays reflecting the growth of the Communities Centre and the University’s groundbreaking work in counselling.  

Attendees included the Lord Mayor of York and the Lady Mayoress, and key figures in the fields of counselling and mental health, alongside current staff and students. Alumni were welcomed back too, including some of the very first cohort of counselling students at York St John.  

Members of the public are now being invited to hear more about the latest research coming from the team at a special research showcase next month. 

The showcase “It’s research but not as we know it: Advancing knowledge in counselling and psychotherapy one compassionate case study at a time”  takes place on Saturday 4 November, 10am to 3pm in the York St John Creative Centre and online.  

Featuring world leading experts, the event will explore challenges in life, loss and relationships, drawing from real life situations to consider the complexities of being human.   

Speaking at the Communities Centre’s launch, Vice Chancellor of York St John University, Professor Karent Bryan, OBE said: “Over the past seven years, the Centre has worked closely with its partners in the city to become a trusted and reliable provider of mental health and wellbeing services for local people. 

“This work is making a tangible difference to people's lives and is an important part of our university’s commitment to support the health and wellbeing of the communities we serve.”  

Founding Director of the Communities Centre, Professor Lynne Gabriel, OBE, said: “We are passionate about providing support that people value. We seek to change lives for the better. That includes collaborative work with staff, students, volunteers, and members of the community, and seeking feedback from people we engage with. The Centre and its team members are embedded in local, regional, and national mental health partnerships and networks. We also are a research Centre, host research students, and generate new understandings and knowledge, particularly in relation to bereavement support work, approaches to working with trauma, and in-depth exploratory case work.”  

To find out more about accessing services at York St John Communities Centre, please visit our website  

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