PGSS mental health policy
PGSS voted to support improved access to mental services at times that are stressful for graduate students. (Alexandra Allaire / McGill Tribune)

PGSS mental health policy aims to increase access to services

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The first mental health policy for the Post-Graduate Students’ Society of McGill University (PGSS) is being developed, according to an announcement made at PGSS Council last Wednesday.

The mental health policy committee announced it would begin implementing the policy next year. The committee, which runs under the health and wellness committee, seeks to cater to graduate students’ mental health needs.

Samara Perez, chair of the committee, explained that the decision to create a policy came from a need to address the needs of PGSS members—particularly for crises or trauma during high-stress periods such as around thesis submission deadlines.

“This policy [is] a positive stance for supporting mental health and education, access to mental health services for graduate students, and advocating for graduating students mental health needs,” Perez said.

The policy also opposes discrimination against students seeking access to mental health services and inequality in access to services.

“Graduate students should have access to mental health services regardless of student status (e.g. full-time, part-time, international),” the motion reads. “Implementation and/or increase of monetary fees […] would prevent students’ access to mental health services on campus due to financial restrictions.”

Perez also explained that the committee would develop specific short-term and long-term goals for the policy.

“The idea is that with this committee […] we will implement one-year, three-year, and five-year mental health plans,” Perez said. “[The policy] is about advocacy for the needs and making the graduate students aware of what services exist for them.”

Library Improvement Fund Proposal

PGSS Academic Affairs Officer Adam Bouchard presented the Library Improvement Fund Committee’s spending proposal.

The PGSS Library Improvement Fund is supported by a non-opt-outable fee levy of $3.00 per PGSS member per semester. The fund is matched by McGill, and is currently valued at $120,000.

Council approved the committee’s motion to spend $50,200 on the creation of a Grad Zone. Furthermore, $5,440 will be allocated towards updating the Ph.D. room, $25,470 for book scanner updates, and $23,360 for 108 new student storage lockers, which will be distributed to individuals without offices or carrels.

Lila Shapiro, representative from the Graduate Association of Students in Psychology, asked for an explanation of the cost of the lockers.

“There are different sizes of laptop lockers and tall lockers,” Bouchard said. “The money is for the purchase of these 108 lockers and for the extra money on a security camera. Based on consultation [… students] would not feel as comfortable leaving their laptops without the camera, which is why this is more expensive.”