The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences’ Graduate Student Council is adapting mental health programs implemented at the College to fit its own independent mental health resources.
The GSC kicked off this effort, which includes a drive for improved access to mental health resources and a mental health survey, at a well-attended mental health and wellness resource fair in Dudley House last March.
Mental wellness has been a primary focus for this year’s graduate student government, along with mentoring and diversity, said GSC President Cammi N. Valdez.
The GSC also worked with the Student Health Planning Committee to successfully increase the number of outside mental health visits covered by students’ insurance plans from 12 to 24 annually.
Valdez said that after hearing that undergraduates are asked to fill out surveys before freshman year and twice more before graduating, the council asked why GSAS students did not have a similar survey.
Looking to the success of the undergraduate survey, the GSC plans to introduce its own mental health survey for GSAS students this fall.
“I think that the survey’s going to be a really good thing to highlight graduate mental health as a priority. We’re hoping that HUHS will use it as they do with the undergraduates—to make changes,” she said.
Despite similarities in recent initiatives, however, both Valdez and Undergraduate Council President Tara Raghuveer ’14 stated that there has not yet been any official collaboration between graduate and undergraduate students regarding mental health, primarily due to their different needs.
“Undergraduate needs [seem] very centralized on their residential halls and issues surrounding medical leave whereas graduate needs are very centralized around their advisors,” Valdez explained.
According to Valdez, the much higher number of married graduate students is also a key difference.
Still, members of the GSC look to undergraduates as an example, Valdez said.
“The graduate students expressed disappointment that we hadn’t reached out to them at the town hall meeting. I just hadn’t had the foresight to meet them,” said Raghuveer. “The questions that the UC is focusing on...are very particular to the College.”
Looking forward, Valdez identified a lack of student awareness about potential resources as the largest challenge.
“Students tend to respond better to other students about this issue,” said Valdez, stressing the need for student organizations to take action. “We need to come together as a graduate student community and reach out to our peers. The undergraduates do a phenomenal job with that.”
—Staff writer Neha Dalal can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @theneha.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
CORRECTION: April 1, 2013
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences’ Graduate Student Council increased the number of outside mental health visits covered by student insurance plans from six to 12 annually. In fact, the number of visits covered each year was increased from 12 to 24.
GSC Considers Potential Structural ChangesAt a monthly meeting of the Graduate School Council on Wednesday, members of the Council discussed whether the Council should continue with a representative democracy or move toward a direct democracy system. A proposed change would allow non-departmental representatives to vote on the issues that the GSC puts forth.