Student petition asks for change in University’s mental health treatment

Calls to improve service circulate social media

LaSalle building on Stuart Street.
Credit: 
Journal File photo

Following a Facebook post on Overheard at Queen’s, Caroline Tsambalieros, ArtSci ’19, has launched a petition for improved mental health treatment on campus. 

Tsambalieros posted in the Facebook group last week, claiming she overheard a conversation between a LaSalle receptionist and another student. 

According to the post, the clinic refused to refill a student’s anti-anxiety medication and told them to come back for the next available appointment time in three weeks. The post then claimed the student cancelled their appointment the day before, but were told they could get their prescription refilled if they came in the next day. 

“I was the only other person in there, it was the start of the day and it would just take a few moments to write a new prescription since she already had it,” Tsambalieros told The Journal in an interview.

“I’m absolutely appalled that a service that prides itself on taking action and helping students treated someone in this way and refused to help them in a time of need,” she wrote. 

The University didn’t respond to The Journal’s request for comment in time for publication. 

In an update for the month of October, Student Wellness Services (SWS) wrote on their website, “In September alone, we provided just over 4,500 appointments, with more than 40 per cent of those being mental health-related appointments.”

“We appreciate that at times demand for services exceeds our capacity and that this can be frustrating if you are feeling unwell.”

Tsambalieros’ Facebook post garnered more than 1,500 likes from students and alumni.

She said many comments reflected the frustration shown in her first post. 

“I felt like making this petition because so many [students] had commented that they didn’t feel like they were being heard,” Tsambalieros said.

Tsambalieros added she feels as though physical health is taken more seriously at SWS than mental health. 

To address the imbalance between physical and mental health treatment on campus, Tsambalieros suggested LaSalle  be separated into two different wellness centres.  

“If Queen’s were to have a specific facility for [students] to go to, that would show them that Queen’s is listening to them and understanding these are serious issues, and that they’re committed to doing something about it.”

Tsambalieros is also advocating for better training of staff at the front desks of LaSalle. 

The petition has already gained over 600 signatures, a number which continues to climb. 

She hopes to use the petition as evidence of other students’support when she submits a complaint to university administration. 

In their statement, SWS wrote, “We are committed to providing the best service we can within the scope of our services and are always looking at ways to improve.”

As of right now, Tsambalieros is unsure of what university administration body she’ll engage with. “It’s all still in the works,” she said. 

However, Tsambalieros has connected with other students and groups on campus seeking to establish better mental health awareness at Queen’s and combat stigma. 

“I’m really proud to go to school where so many people care about this issue and are as passionate about it as me,” Tsambalieros said. 

“I hope I can make a change.”

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