Queen’s students seeking mental health services can now bypass long wait times, complex booking systems and extensive commutes with a few clicks of a mouse.
On Oct. 30, 2015, the AMS announced the opening of the Online Psychology Network in a mass email to Queen’s students. The network allows students to book and attend appointments online with one of 11 certified psychologists using video conferencing.
The network is one of the newest additions to the AMS Health Plan. An online coaching and therapy service called PsyVitalitï has also been added to the plan.
AMS Vice-President (Operations) Kyle Beaudry said the program has been in the works for several years now, though he couldn’t say how many.
“This is all based on quite a bit of historical research, and a lot of years of looking into this,” Beaudry, Comm ’15, said.
One-third of students say that their education is affected by stress, according to data PsyVitalitï provided to the AMS.
PsyVitalitï also told the AMS that half of youth in Canadian universities experience symptoms of anxiety or depression without follow-up, Beaudry said.
“Those were two pretty compelling statistics for why we should take that next step,” Beaudry said.
Online appointments are as effective as an in-person interaction, according to Beaudry.
He said while students may initially demonstrate some hesitation towards the video conference model, it holds immense potential for good work in mental health.
“Student care is here to serve the student — and if it can be done in a better and more innovative way, [we’re] trying it to see how it works.”
Beaudry says he’s unsure what specific measures are in place ensure online security, but he’s confident that they’re more than adequate.
“[PsyVitalitï] actually has a Chief Privacy Officer,” Beaudry said. He added that privacy and security are as much of a risk to the company as it is to a student and would therefore be a top priority.
For the AMS, the new service offers three benefits, he said — convenience, ease of use and a pre-existing connection to their student health plan.
“We’re all busy, whether you have class, or extracurriculars, or sports, or whatever is going on in your day-to-day life,” Beaudry said.
“[Often], you don’t have to take the time to get on a bus, or take a taxi out, and wait for your appointment.”
The online service will fall under the same coverage as face-to-face appointments. Students covered by the AMS plan will be subsidized $30 per visit with a maximum of $400 per year.
The AMS Health Plan costs Queen’s students $129.56 in student fees each year. The cost of the plan increased from $122.15 to $129.56 last year, an increase of $7.41.
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