On December 11, after classes had ended, the Quality Services to Students (QSS) committee met to discuss increases for various incidental fees. The most pressing of these was the Health and Counselling Centre’s (HCC) proposed increase of 16.5 per cent. This would increase the annual fee for full-time students to $117.88.
The HCC’s medical director Erin Kraftcheck told the committee that students are asking for increased access to the centre’s services and personal counselling. According to Kraftcheck, 40 per cent of all appointments made through the HCC are related to mental health.
This increase comes after students complained last semester about the long wait times and lack of access to services. The HCC will be using the fee increase to hire two additional full-time counsellors in the new year.
Students should be able to get the help they need to cope with their mental health issues, but the HCC is a short-term solution to a long-term problem. According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), on average it takes 15-20 therapy sessions for patients to recover properly. The current health plan at UTM only covers five counselling sessions per student for the entire year.
Students are demanding for better mental health support, but the university is not a hospital, and it shouldn’t be one. If students put pressure on the HCC to expand, students will be the ones footing the bill.
Although the need for mental health support is increasing every year, the HCC should remain focused on offering short-term based solution and leaving the long-term solutions to external organizations.
Additionally, the UTMSU health plan that all students must pay for covers services from LinkMentalHealth. The website connects students to therapists that best fit their needs with little to no wait time. More importantly, students’ insurance covers $125 per appointment, which covers around 20 sessions in total, 15 more than the HCC will provide.
The university is already ill-equipped in handling mental health concerns, and throwing more money at the problem won’t necessarily fix it.
Students already pay around $870 per semester for services — basically a third of a full-time student’s yearly tuition. How much higher are we willing to let it go?