The Committee on Student Mental Health (CoSMH) began the new year with a full agenda, with robust discussion about recommendations 12, 25, and 29.
The discussion on recommendation 12 continued from October 2019, when Jeff Casello, Associate Vice-President, Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs, shared information on the work of the Task Force on Graduate Supervision. This month, CoSMH heard from two campus representatives directly involved in supporting existing mechanisms for students who are having challenges in their interactions with supervisors or instructors: Beth Jewkes, chair of the Policy 33 Drafting Committee, and Jeremy de Boer, Senior Case Consultant Conflict Management & Human Rights. Dr. Jewkes presented on the implications of the revisions to Policy 33, which is the formal mechanism through which students can make allegations of harassment or discrimination against a staff or faculty member. The Drafting Committee recommend the procurement of a commercial system to aid in case management and data tracking. Through the Conflict Management and Human Rights Office (CMAHRO), Jeremy de Boer’s team provides services such as mediation, meeting facilitation, group workshops, and consultation and guidance through formal and informal grievance mechanisms. Students may seek support through CMAHRO, but if they are looking for advocacy, they are redirected to the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA) or the Graduate Student Association (GSA).
CoSMH also heard from the Student Health Plan Committee, whose representatives were happy to share that mental health coverage through the plan has been increased to 80% up to $800 a year, and no longer requires a referral from a medical doctor. Counselling Services is working with local service providers to put together packages within the coverage limit so students can easily select a community practitioner that best suits their needs. Though students only pay into the plan during school terms, it continues to provide coverage when students are abroad and its scope includes private services overseas. The Student Health Plan Committee has also procured a 24/7 counselling service, Empower Me, which will be fully integrated with UWaterloo’s Counselling Services to ensure seamless information sharing and referrals. Further information about mental health service coverage and community resources with sliding scales will be posted online for student reference.
CoSMH voted to confirm the completion of recommendation 25, which advised UWaterloo to join the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction Postsecondary Education Partnership – Alcohol Harms. This required sign-off from the Provost, which was received on January 15th, 2020.
To further transparency and continue an open dialogue with students, CoSMH members have presented at the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association Council and the Graduate Student Association Council. Check the CoSMH dashboard for the most recent progress updates!