KSA Aims to Improve Student Mental Wellness

Student health care plans may soon include support for those seeking better mental health
Ashley Hyshka

Tanvir Singh, President of the Kwantlen Student Association, wants to change how mental illness is addressed at KPU, as he feels it “isn’t addressed in the open as much as it really should be.”

About a year ago, the KSA were approached by current health and dental provider Gallivan & Associates, who discussed the idea of adding mental health initiatives to the current insurance plan. Unsatisfied with the product, the KSA offered feedback, and has been reworking the insurance plan for the past year.

Singh and his fellow executives will be meeting with Gallivan & Associates at a conference to further discuss the proposal and finalize the details of the plan.

The mental health initiative that the KSA is researching is a product called myWellness, which is currently being utilized by BCIT. MyWellness contains a toolbox of resources for improving one’s mental health, such as preliminary evaluation tools that can assess if a person needs to talk to a psychologist or doctor, and then directs them to a specialist that is well suited to them. It also offers the phone numbers for crisis lines, facts about mental illnesses, mental health essentials, and stress relieving tips.

The KSA estimates that one per cent of students would utilize the mental health tool.

Singh realizes that one per cent only represents a small fraction of the total number of university students currently grappling with a mental illness, but believes that by using awareness campaigns, other students will seek treatment.

“Take a step back from your learning, your education, your home life, and other things, and other aspects of your life, and really focus on yourself,” he says.

While there is no set deadline for the new plan’s implementation, Singh says “one of the big things that we need to ensure, and that’s kind of a due diligence that myself and the rest of the [KSA] Executives have, is that the products we’re looking at are of high enough quality and low enough cost that we’re actually able to implement them here for students.”

Singh and the Executive team are “trying to take a multi-faceted approach towards mental health,” and hope to run a campaign on the subject sometime over the next year.

Only recently has mental health made its way to the forefront of insurance plans. Lobbying by the KSA and other student associations has encouraged insurance providers to take mental health seriously, causing development for products like myWellness.

Singh became passionate about advocating for mental health when he and a couple of friends created the Kwantlen Gaming Guild at KPU. Singh noticed how members opened up emotionally during club get-togethers, and noted a lack of mental health and wellness on campus to address some of their concerns.

“It’s something that really struck a chord with me personally,” he said.

He continues, “At the KSA we’re really excited that, in the future, we’re not only going to be taking mental health seriously, but we’re also going to be providing opportunities for students to really take a look at their mental health and wellness. Mental health, physical health and wellness are all part of the same circle and everyone needs to take care of themselves. That’ll provide a better experience for students on campus, but also better experience for students throughout their lives.”


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