QBACC calls for increased accessibility to Queen’s mental health services

Queen’s Let’s Talk petition gives the University six months to implement proposals

QBACC has a meeting with the University next week to discuss the petition.
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Queen’s Backing Action on Climate Change (QBACC) is calling for Queen’s Mental Health Services (QMHS) to address the limitations of their care.

Student Wellness Services dubbed the week of Jan. 28—Bell Let’s Talk Day—Mental Health Promotion week, coining the phrase “Queen’s Let’s Talk” to discuss mental health and highlight existing structures on campus. 

On the same day, QBACC started a petition to increase the accessibility of QMHS. 

The petition includes a link to a survey through which students can share their experiences with QMHS. At the time of publication, 830 people had signed it.

“What we wanted to do is take that attention they were attempting to put onto themselves and hopefully have the administration reflect on who the originators are,” Nick Lorraway, QBACC co-president, said in an interview with The Journal.

The petition asks the University to implement an increase in data collection on appointment numbers, permission for Queen’s First Aid Campus Response Team to expand their services, a clearer resource list, mental health literacy training for faculty and staff, and more trauma-informed training within the next six months.

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QBACC has a meeting with the University scheduled next week to discuss the petition, according to Lorraway. 

“Everyone knows someone who’s gone to Mental Health Services and has had a horror story of some scale,” Lorraway said. “I’ve had three friends drop out of university within my years of being here—all mental health related.”

In addition to the six-month measures, QBACC wants QMHS to hire more licensed professionals in order to have enough resources and counsellors for all students who need help.

QBACC is also proposing timely care for all who reach out, involving reasonable time periods between appointments. It proposes emergency prioritization still be used, but not as the only option of care offered. 

He said many students who attempt to access QMHS get discouraged from the lack of accessibility in booking appointments and receiving timely care.

“You’ve lost them—they’re gone,” Lorraway said. “When people get discouraged after they’ve reached out, that’s devastating.”

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QBACC also proposes a refocus to ongoing treatment and maintenance, going beyond the crisis approach to mental health care to use long-term care and treatment plans and the acknowledgement of underlying issues.

“Mental health at Queen’s is kind of a dirty little secret Queen’s has,” Lorraway said. “I think everybody knows mental health services are not great.”

QBACC also proposes an end to sweepstakes care, instead asking for students to be able to book future appointments at any time through an accessible bookings system. 

It also proposes the ability to try out different therapists and special resources for BIPOC, LGTBQIA2S+, and at-risk groups, giving students the ability to speak with therapists who share their lived experiences. 

“I think the University has a responsibility to take care of its students a bit better than they are right now,” Lorraway said.

Lorraway said he doesn’t want this initiative to discourage students from reaching out to QMHS, because they can be helpful. Rather, he believes there are underlying issues that need to be fixed.

“What this is about is encouraging [QMHS] to become more accessible for students,” Lorraway said. “This isn’t about knocking them down […] It’s about encouraging care.”

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