+SUPPORT DEMANDS OF MENTAL HEALTH JUSTICE AT YALE AND CREATE A WIDE NETWORK FOR MENTAL HEALTH COALITIONS
Student organizers have been mobilizing around mental health, and we plan to uplift and support these efforts through every avenue possible. We plan to use current pathways of communication with YMHC to ensure constant pressure on the demands of these organizations. We also plan to meet consistently with them to ensure that we uplift and support their efforts as possible.
In particular, we plan to support the following demands, as outlined by Mental Health Justice at Yale:
+ ADVOCATE FOR THE INCREASE OF THE DEFAULT SESSION FROM 30 MINUTES TO 60 MINUTES.
Students have indicated that the 30-minute window with therapists is too short for meaningful discussion or therapy. We believe that the expansion of the Yale Mental Health & Counseling staff this semester, as well as the addition of specialists outlined in MHJY’s demands, will afford the mental health staff the capacity to meet with students for 60 minutes, and we will work with Yale Health + Dean Chun to advocate for this.
+ ADVOCATE FOR THE HIRING OF MORE (SPECIALIZED) COUNSELORS.
Although the recent addition of 14 staff members to Yale’s mental health + wellness support system is a welcome expansion, the ratio of students to therapists + range of options remains inadequate to afford the student body the consistent mental healthcare they need. We plan to work alongside MHJY to push for further expansions of the number of therapists available to students. In this additional proposed expansion, we will advocate for the hiring of staff such as nutritionists trained in treating eating disorders + therapists trained specifically in counseling those who experience(d) assault/rape, childhood trauma, + personality disorders, and therapists with more diverse racial, gender, and sexuality identities.
+ WORK ALONGSIDE YHEI TO CONTINUE ADVOCACY FOR THE TRANSITION TO A PPO MODEL.
In accordance with the demands of both YHEI + MHJY, we plan to work towards the long-term goal of transitioning Yale to a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) model for student health insurance. A PPO health insurance model offers a much larger network of external providers, which would therefore be accessible across the country. A PPO plan offers flexibility to receive medical care if you need to seek medical treatment away from Yale for any reason. Many universities (including every other Ivy League) use a third-party insurance vendor that offers a PPO-type plan. This has proven beneficial for students who need to travel or return home for any reason. Take for example Harvard + Columbia, which offers their students a PPO healthcare plan through Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) + Aetna, respectively. Harvard’s student insurance plan enables students to visit physicians all over the country, as long as the physician is in the BCBS network. As a result, students are able to see specialists away from school for non-emergency situations, + receive coverage from their university health insurance.
+ ADVOCATE FOR THE HIRING OF A MORE DIVERSE YMHC STAFF, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO MORE BIPOC + LGBTQ+ COUNSELORS
Far too often, clinicians at YMHC don’t reflect us or our experiences. For example, a Muslim woman who attended a YMHC counseling session was asked why she didn’t “simply stop wearing the hijab” in order to alleviate stress she was experiencing related to religious discrimination. These types of experiences are unacceptable, and our hope is that having a more diverse staff will reduce such instances of absolute lack of understanding. It is essential that YMHC have a diverse set of counselors that can best understand the experiences of BIPOC + LGBTQ+ students who may feel more comfortable speaking with a therapist who shares their identity.
+ CREATE A STUDENT ADVISORY COMMITTEE WITHIN YMHC FOR THE HIRING OF YMHC CLINICIANS
We aim to establish a YMHC student advisory committee to ensure therapists are representative of the student body. With greater student input on the hiring process, we plan to move towards a more diverse set of clinicians that represent the varied experiences + backgrounds of Yale students.
+ CREATE A CONFIDENTIAL + INDEPENDENT REPORTING SYSTEM FOR COUNSELORS WHO DO NOT FOLLOW THROUGH OR HAVE PROBLEMATIC BEHAVIOR
Too many Yale students who reach out to YMHC have negative experiences with a clinician who does not follow up on their needs or does not understand them to begin with. As a result, we plan to implement an entirely confidential + independent reporting system where students can report their negative experiences with YMHC. This creates a mechanism where students do not have to fear potential backlash, but can also ensure that their concerns are relayed to YMHC.
+ HIRE MENTAL HEALTH FELLOWS AT ALL CULTURAL CENTERS, OFFICE OF LGBTQ RESOURCES, + THE WOMEN’S CENTER
Along with advocating for the employment of more BIPOC + LGBTQ+ therapists in YMHC, we will also advocate to expand mental health resources at each cultural center. Students may feel more comfortable speaking to a person with similar cultural identities, and the mental health fellows will serve as an extra resource for students to seek emotional support. Currently, only the Asian American Cultural Center has emotional wellness support that students can sign up for. We plan to work with Dean Yee at the AACC to discuss the current mental health resources at the AACC in order to expand similar programs to all cultural centers, the Women’s Center, + the Yale University Office of LGBTQ Resources.
+ SIMPLIFY THE MEDICAL LEAVE PROCESS BY ELIMINATING UNNECESSARY + BURDENSOME STEPS
Yale students in mental health crises are given the option to take a medical leave of absence. As the policy currently stands, Yale students on a medical leave are given strict stipulations on how to spend their time, including an enforced rule that the student must enroll in university courses during their time off at a local university (a barrier to international students with local university systems that function very differently and to low-income students), as well as a lengthy reinstatement process at the end of the leave involving multiple interviews and a reapplication process, with no guarantee that the student will be welcome back. Universities such as Brown University have streamlined the process for students to exercise a medical leave of absence by requiring only a letter from the student + from their clinician, as well as a release of information form. To facilitate Yale’s process + reduce the stress associated with leaves of absence + reinstatement, we will push for the instatement of a policy more similar to that at Brown.
+ BUILD A CONNECTION BETWEEN YCC + WELLNESS SPECIALISTS TO ESTABLISH REGULAR PROGRAMMING THAT FITS STUDENT NEEDS
The Wellness Specialists added by Yale this semester will not be effective alone, and they cannot be effective if they do not take into account student needs. Therefore, in the coming year, we plan to establish a working relationship with the Wellness Specialists to ensure a constant stream of student input on the program. In particular, we plan to gauge what students would most like to see from the program and work with the Wellness Specialists to ensure that these needs are met.
+ DESTIGMATIZE REACHING OUT TO YMHC FOR CARE
Mental health at Yale is difficult to navigate due to the complexity + inadequacy of YMHC, but it is also due to stigmatization + culture surrounding mental health at Yale + more broadly. Our administration would be committed to destigmatizing the process of reaching out to YMHC by creating a community that centers health – in all its forms – and recognizes that the health of students is a sum of all of its parts.
+ EXPAND STANDARD COURSE EVALUATION FORMS TO INCLUDE A CLASS CLIMATE + ACCESSIBILITY QUESTION
Current course evaluations are inadequate in their ability to evaluate whether courses are inclusive of students’ mental health needs. We plan to work to expand the current course evaluation format to include a class climate + accessibility question that allows students to reflect on whether the professor provided an environment that was welcoming for + conducive to learning for students of all backgrounds, in particular disabled, BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and FGLI students. Courses need to more explicitly express a willingness for mental health accommodations; we will also advocate for course statements to make clear provisions that support student needs in the case of mental health considerations.
+ INCLUDE MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID TRAINING IN FROCO TRAINING + AVAILABLE TO ALL STUDENTS
Given the importance of mental health, we believe FroCos should be well-equipped to emotionally support first-years, especially given that first-years often reach out to their FroCos first for questions + support. We will work with the Education Specialist/Coordinator at Being Well at Yale to offer all FroCos the Mental Health First Aid Training certification course to gain the skills needed to emotionally support first-years, and we will make this course widely available to any Yale student who wishes to learn more about how to support their friends.
+ PROMOTE APPLICATIONS TO THE TITLE IX STUDENT ADVISORY BOARD
We will work to promote + encourage students to apply for the Title IX Student Advisory Board + collaborate with CCEs to host monthly events to ensure that students are well aware of sexual assault reporting resources + the role of the CCEs.