‘Reform Student Wellness’ Instagram account details mental health inaccessibility at Queen’s

Creator calls on administration to adopt proposals set by QBACC, AMS

The University said it’s reading the stories that have been shared.

Queen’s students are speaking out about their experiences with Student Wellness Services (SWS) through an Instagram account called ‘Reform Student Wellness’. 

The account, which launched Jan. 29, is modelled after Instagram accounts ‘Stolen by Smith’ and ‘Erased by FEAS.’ 

Many posts allege the inaccessibility of counsellors and therapists through SWS, difficulty in obtaining accommodations for assignments and exams, long wait times in getting appointments for services, and poor treatment from SWS employees.

The account had 465 followers at the time of publication. 

The creator of the account, who chose to remain anonymous, wrote a statement to The Journal about their decision to start the page.

“Since my very first experience with SWS, my bucket has gradually been filling with drops of disappointment and anger,” they wrote. “Last week, my bucket overflowed and I decided I’ve had enough.” 

“I wanted to educate the general community about what goes on behind closed doors. Many people had no idea about the issues regarding healthcare accessibility at Queen’s, and I am very determined to make sure these issues are public.”

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The account creator explained that, among several of their colleagues, they had filled out a number of the monthly Feedback Surveys offered by SWS without noticing any changes to the services. 

They said excuses for the “low standard of care” are constantly being made and the University is dodging student concerns as a way to “avoid taking responsibility.”

The University told The Journal it’s aware of the Instagram page and is reading the stories that have been shared. 

“It's really important to us that we hear these concerns and student experiences, as we want to ensure our services meet as many student needs as possible,” SWS Executive Director Cynthia Gibney wrote in a statement to The Journal

“We meet regularly with student leaders, and we have been talking with them about more ways to provide opportunities for students to share their experiences with us, to ask questions and to learn more about our services, models of care, and all of the options available for connecting students with the care they need.”

Gibney said SWS is “committed to providing excellent care, advice and support to the thousands of students we see every year.” 

The creator of Reform Student Wellness hopes the University will take responsibility for students’ negative experiences with SWS and “establish a fundamental sense of respect” for students.

“It is rather heartbreaking when you leave multiple voicemails, and hear absolutely nothing in return,” they said.

The creator is also calling on the University to take action based on student feedback. They said initiatives like the University’s “Wellness Week” invalidate mental illness by providing a short-term model of care for mental health.

“There are no timely and effective supports in place for people struggling with mental illness, as most mental illnesses take weeks to years of proper care,” they said. 

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The creator of the page also said they’re hoping the University adopts the changes advocated for in QBACC’s campaign to promote mental health resources on campus, including ensuring there are enough licensed professionals available on campus for all students to access, providing timely care for all students who wish to access mental health services, training professors and staff in mental health literacy, and providing additional resources for BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and other marginalized groups on campus. 

The AMS told The Journal it’s in contact with SWS and has raised the issues shared in the account to SWS’s administration. The AMS also mentioned it will advocate for QBACC’s mental health campaign when meeting with the University.

“We have raised issues with SWS to administration, including amplifying this account as well as the petition created by QBACC.” the AMS wrote. “We will continue to meet with SWS to discuss tangible ways they can improve their services and hear concerns and feedback from students, and will be meeting with SWS next week to discuss these matters and our path forward to accessible and equitable mental health support.”

“We will continue prioritizing student health and wellness through the AMS Health and Wellness Caucus, run by the Campus Affairs Commission, that is open to all students and clubs to attend and share their ideas and concerns.”

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