AMS increases mental health coverage in student insurance plan at no extra cost

New health and dental plan offers $1,000 in coverage per year, effective Sept. 1 

The change in coverage aims to reduce financial barriers to mental health support for students. 
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

The AMS is increasing coverage for psychologists, social workers, and psychotherapists offered through their student health and dental insurance plan.

Effective Sept. 1, the new plan guarantees students will be insured 100 per cent per visit up to $1,000 per policy year, as opposed to the previous plan that offered a total of $750 per policy year.  

The Society is increasing this benefit without increasing the cost of the plan, so students won’t experience higher fees as a result of the change. 

“This improvement will allow students to access more appointments without a cost to themselves [and] has catapulted the mental health aspect of the AMS Health and Dental Plan to be one of the premier plans in the country,” AMS President Auston Pierce wrote in a statement to The Journal

The AMS said the changes were made in consultation with the Society’s partners at Studentcare, the plan provider, and others across the Society to ensure the decision maximizes the benefit to students while remaining financially sustainable.  

The increase is aimed at helping students adequately address their mental health by reducing financial barriers to accessing support on campus and in the community. 

According to Pierce, the majority of psychologists aren’t covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) and high fees associated with their services can make them inaccessible to many students.

“We know this change will reduce those financial barriers, allowing more students to access the mental health support they need,” Pierce added.  

In an effort to address the crisis of student mental health on campus, the AMS has been focused on introducing new support resources this year. 

Last September, the Society introduced EmpowerMe, an online platform accessible year-round at any time of day, that provides free access to counselling for university students and eligible spouses and children. The service can be accessed through a hotline, in person, or through video counselling.

The AMS also launched the partnership between the Peer Support Centre (PSC) and the Committee Against Racial and Ethnic Discrimination (CARED) in October. The partnership aims to provide specific support for Black and Indigenous and/or Persons of Colour (BIPOC) on campus. 

The Society is also aware that the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting student mental health. 

“[W]e have been discussing increasing coverage for psychology since September, [but] we were unable to alter the plan until the year following our own,” Pierce wrote. “However, with COVID-19 putting an added toll on all of us, this could not be coming at a better time.”

 

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