We Demand a Just Mental Health Care Plan From Yale

This has been an immensely difficult semester. In addition to the ongoing pandemic, tragedies including the shootings in Atlanta and Boulder, as well as the passing of Rachael Shaw-Rosenbaum, have left us all shaken. We have not had our usual spring break to recover. Moreover, there is an unprecedented number of students away from Yale this year. Far too many are left without adequate healthcare, left in a more vulnerable position than they would be under more normal circumstances. The pandemic and the many changes to our campus have put further strain on students’ mental health.

In light of this situation, Yale has a responsibility to provide timely and adequate care to students who need it. Students of color, LGBTQ+ students, and first generation/low income students are especially in greater need of institutional support now more than ever, but are disproportionately harmed by the existing policies. Yale must also prioritize students’ mental health in crafting its medical withdrawal policies and the academic environment. The University should be doing everything it can to make mental health services more accessible.

And yet, Yale has failed students when they most desperately need its support. A report by the Yale College Council in 2018 found that it may take more than a month for students to receive actual treatment. Half of the student respondents indicated that Yale does not do enough to take care of students’ mental health. For years, students expressed disappointment and anger over Yale’s mental health services and medical withdrawal policies. Last Fall, after hearing these stories from Students Unite Now, twelve Heads of Colleges agreed to send SUN’s demands for better mental healthcare at Yale along to Dean Chun and President Salovey. And yet, the University has failed to adopt these demands.

In a campus-wide email on March 24th, Dean Chun wrote: “If you ask for support, you will get it.” We are asking. We are calling on Yale to provide the support it has promised by adopting our demands. We worry for our peers’ wellbeing and lives.

We, Mental Health Justice at Yale, are fighting for care for our most vulnerable peers, through the demands listed below. We invite everyone to join us as we pressure the Yale administration to do the following:  

  1. Improve access and quality of care on campus by:

    1. Increasing the default session length from 30 minutes to 60 minutes.

    2. Limiting the wait time between intake meetings and first appointments to a maximum of two weeks, based on the student’s preference.

    3. Hiring more clinicians via the following timeline: Increase current MHC clinician numbers by 50% by the end of 2021, 75% by the end of 2022, and 100% by the end of 2023.

    4. Hiring more clinicians, especially those who are Black, Indigenous, POC, Latinx, Jewish, Muslim, Asian, Middle Eastern and North African disabled, queer, trans, and/or a gender minority, and clinicians who are trained in treating specialized conditions including but not limited to:

      1. Eating disorders (specifically a HAES/IE nutritionist), sexual assault and rape, substance abuse, childhood trauma, intergenerational trauma, autism spectrum disorder, bipolar disorder, personality disorders (including all disorders defined under Clusters A, B, and C), obsessive-compulsive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, disability and chronic illness

  2. Guarantee that every Yale student, regardless of enrollment status, maintains access to a year-round subsidized Yale Basic and Hospitalization/Specialty Care plan or equivalent.

  3. Eliminate the application for reinstatement for medical, financial, and personal withdrawals, including any stipulations on how this time is spent.

  4. Allow any healthcare professional (including therapists, psychiatrists, and any clinicians) to obtain Dean’s excuses on behalf of students. Deans will be obligated to honor the request of the professional, mirroring Title IX’s current practice.

  5. Implement a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) insurance option, used throughout the UC system, Stanford, and all other Ivy League institutions, which will give students access to a nationwide network of clinicians with a wide range of backgrounds and specialties, alleviating the demand on Yale Mental Health & Counseling.

For more information on how Yale has failed to support students struggling with mental illness, please refer to this document that will be regularly updated. Use this link to view our demands FAQ page and this email template to send to your professors and Yale administration. If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions, you can reach out to mhjyale@gmail.com.

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