GSA-UW News

WUSA & GSA Approve Expansions to Mental Health Coverage

November 27, 2019

By: Seneca Velling, VP Operations & Finance (WUSA); Naima Samuel, President (GSA)

We’re excited to announce additional mental health supports under your WUSA/GSA Health Plan coverage! The expanded coverage will make it easier for students to access mental health services where and when you need it, and from an increased number of licenses health practitioners.

The changes are part of one of the most comprehensive updates to a student healthcare plan in the country. The Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA) and the Graduate Student Association (GSA) worked extensively with UW Campus Wellness and StudentCare to re-evaluate our insurance coverage offerings. The Health Plan expansion will further recommendations laid out in the President’s Advisory Committee on Student Mental Health (PAC-SMH) for expanding healthcare funding and developing better referral mechanisms to community partners.

We have been able to minimize any financial impacts that may come from the expansion of coverage, so that the associated student fees will not increase in the upcoming winter and spring terms and see only minimal increases next academic year (estimated at less than or equal to $5.00 annually).

These changes are now approved and will come into effect on January 1st, 2020. WUSA and GSA will be working to have the program fully integrated with UW Campus Wellness over the coming terms.

Expanding Health Plan Coverage

Owing to excellent financial management, the Health Plan is well positioned to expand benefits with next to no changes in student fees. The plan’s current coverage limits for psychology, referral requirements, and supported practitioners are dated and provide impractical barriers to what is often much needed care.

In an effort to increase the resources available to students at a time when on-campus partners are overwhelmed, WUSA & GSA are proud to announce:

  • Doubling the annual coverage limits for mental health services under the Health Plan, to 80% coverage for Mental Health Practitioners to a new total of $800.00 per calendar year;
  • Expanding the scope of allowed practitioners covered under the Health Plan to include psychologists, registered social workers, psychotherapists, and clinical counsellors; and
  • The eliminating the requirement for referrals from a medical doctor in order to have your psychological treatment covered by the Health Plan.

Addition of EmpowerMe

EmpowerMe is a short-term, solution-focused counselling service available 24/7/365 that operates on an uncapped model – ensuring that you receive as much care as you need. You can connect with counsellors, psychologists, health professionals, and life coaches. Sessions are offered in person, by video, or over the phone – and your first point of contact is always with a masters-level clinician with at least 5-years’ experience, rather than an operator or receptionist.

Support is available over the phone in over 200 languages, is culturally sensitive, and gender- and faith-inclusive. You can get support for issues like:

  • relationships
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • addictions
  • crisis
  • stress
  • academic conflicts
  • nutrition
  • adjusting to post-secondary education
  • career development
  • financial matters
  • grief

EmpowerMe gives students the option to access services off campus, on evenings and weekends, anywhere in the world. Our hope is that it helps to remove barriers to accessing mental health supports while broadening options for support. All part-time and full-time on-campus students will have access to this program!

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