AMS committee lacks clear purpose

Mental health committee chair says other groups on campus have similar mandates

T.K. Pritchard, AMS social issues commissioner says the AMS mental health committee met at least six times over the summer.
T.K. Pritchard, AMS social issues commissioner says the AMS mental health committee met at least six times over the summer.

An AMS committee focusing on mental health hasn’t made a move since its inception in April.

AMS Assembly passed a motion on April 7 for the committee to “evaluate how the AMS provides support to students on our campus and canvas other universities.”

The committee first met on June 7 and held at least six meetings throughout the summer, said Social Issues Commissioner T.K. Pritchard who chairs the committee.

In a September report to Assembly, Pritchard said that the committee “discussed the mental health situation on campus and how we can ensure that student voices will be heard.”

In interviews with the Journal, Pritchard couldn’t provide examples of committee attempts to contact other universities in regards to mental health support systems.

The committee plans to continue to meet during the school year.

Other mental health groups already exist on campus, which made the committee’s job more difficult, Pritchard, ArtSci ’12, said.

“What’s kind of stifled a little bit is just how do we not replicate other groups. You don’t want to take away from what other groups are doing,” he said.

The University-run Mental Health Working Group, launched in 2007, is responsible for reviewing mental health policies, programs and services. Its purpose is to make program and services recommendations and to develop related initiatives.

Principal Daniel Woolf’s Mental Health Commission was launched in September.

Pritchard said he met with the Principal’s commission as a member of the Mental Health Working Group and is hoping to meet with the commission on behalf of the AMS mental health committee later this year.

The AMS committee hasn’t received funding from the AMS, Pritchard said.

“Probably if we approached the AMS [executive], we could work something out but we haven’t identified what we’d do with said money yet,” he said.

Pritchard said the group is working with members involved in the Peer Support Centre and the Mental Health Working Group. He said resources from the AMS aren’t needed yet.

“[AMS Vice-President of University Affairs] Kieran [Slobodin] has been very open to helping us with anything that we need as soon as we come to him … at this point, it hasn’t really been needed for us to seek out much from the AMS,” Pritchard said.

He said any student feedback on student-related issues at Queen’s is important and in some way beneficial.

“As students, maybe we can get that feedback easier, maybe we can reach out to those students,” he said.

Pritchard said the committee’s main goal now is deciding how more student input and voices can be heard and how this information can be reiterated to administration. He said the group is a channel for student voice.

“How do we get this broad student interest, and there are a lot of students interested, to [the administration]?” Pritchard said. “That’s I think where we kind of found our niche – figuring out how to get student voices.”

Kevin Imrie brought forward the April 7 motion to establish the AMS mental health committee. Imrie is now the business manager of the Journal.

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