Increased Access to Mental Health for WLU Postgraduates
Postgraduate students at Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU) are unsatisfied with the mental health support offered to students. We have found that resources allocated to mental health support, through the Wellness Centre, are insufficient to meet the needs of students. There are 3-5 staff members serving a student body of +18,500 people. This lack of adequate staffing and wellness centre resources results in drastically long wait times (sometimes more than 3-4 weeks), and poor therapeutic relationships as students bounce between counsellors based on availability and need. Mental health services at WLU are limited to the Waterloo campus and there is no support offered on the Kitchener campus, despite the concentration of postgraduate students at that location.
With on-campus services being so restrictive, students are turning to outside community resources. However, despite postgraduate students being part of the larger student body and tuition fees similar to other WLU undergraduate programs, insurance coverage offered to postgraduate students remains drastically lower than that offered to undergraduates. Insurance coverage provided by Student Care to postgraduates is insufficient to cover off-campus mental health supports, without a significant financial contribution from students. WLUGSA justifies the lack of coverage by the fact that there are fewer postgraduate students and that the current plan offers birth control coverage to postgraduates. In light of the growing mental health needs of postgraduates in Canada, insufficient insurance forces students to choose between preventative self-care and other basic needs.
We would like to see increased access to mental health services for postgraduate students by reinforcing the wellness centre’s capacity to serve the growing student population. We would also like campus specific resources allocated to the Kitchener campus and its postgraduate students. Additionally we advocate for better insurance coverage for all Laurier students. These small steps will allow students to prioritize preventative self-care and contribute to overall improved student outcomes.