In light of a recent student-led initiative to submit anonymous accounts of negative experiences with mental health services, Queen’s University has issued a statement to YGK News calling student mental health “a priority at Queen’s, and an issue across the university-age demographic that institutions around the world are all working hard to address.”
“We cannot comment on any specific student case, however we are deeply concerned whenever a student feels unsupported by the university,” the University wrote. “We will always help a student in urgent need and help has always been available. We encourage any student who identifies as needing to talk to a professional to contact Student Wellness Services.”
Student Wellness Services currently offers remote and in-person appointments as needed. According to the University, students reaching out after hours are directed to “24/7 local and remote services for immediate assistance.”
“Queen’s cares deeply about our students,” the University wrote. “We have a dedicated professional staff [ … ] working hard to meet demand for mental health services and support [ … ] There is a lot of support and resources that can truly make a difference, and we want to encourage and support students as they build skills and confidence to get through this particularly intense time in all of our lives.”
In an email to YGK News, Matilda Eklund, the fourth-year student behind the initiative, called the University’s statement “a lovely sentiment [that is] directly contradicted by the lived experiences of most students.”
According to Eklund, the initiative has garnered over fifty student testimonies, of which the predominant complaint is “the complete and utter inaccessibility of care at Queen’s.”
“The urgent care appointments are often booked by 9am, meaning that students suffering must wake up early and stay on the phone for up to or even over an hour just for the chance to receive care,” she wrote.
“Emails are ignored, students are hung up on, appointments are cancelled last minute, and students are turned away for not being deemed sufficiently ill [ … ] If only a fraction of students can endure the process [the University has] set up for them, [the University] can get away with providing a fraction of the care.”
Eklund said she believes the University truly cares for its students, but she will continue to push for administration to fulfill student needs for consistent, high-quality mental health services.
“This is not an easy thing to do, and I understand that,” Eklund wrote. “But Queen’s needs to understand that living with mental health issues during university is not easy either, and if they expect their students to keep up their studies while dealing with these struggles, those students should be able to [access] the support they need.”
The University declined to comment on the current same-day booking system for crisis appointments.