UPDATES ON SB139-5: A COMMITMENT TO IMPROVING CAMPUS MENTAL HEALTH
We, the Senate of the Undergraduate Student Government of the University of Southern California, wish to express our commitment to confronting the mental health issues and update the undergraduate population in regard to our previous Statement on September 10th. Outlined below are the steps that have been taken:
SENATOR ROBERTSON has been collaborating with Gwen Howard, Director of Accessibility Affairs to expand access to counseling services through telehealth. After extensive research, the two met with Dr. Mendola, Executive Director of Student Counseling Services, to discuss the potential of providing students with a free subscription to the text- and video-based counseling app, Talkspace. Conversations are ongoing with Talkspace representatives and Student Health Services to determine feasibility and logistics, though all parties currently support the initiative.
SENATOR CHUANG met with Dr. Van Orman, Chief Health Officer, and Dr. Mendola to discuss increasing transparency in the dispute process for the $20 missed counseling appointment fee. Since then, the official billing dispute form has been added to the USC Student Health website, and the following line has been added to the letter sent when the charges are sent to the student account: “If you believe that this fee was charged in error or would like to dispute these charges, please contact the Student Health Cashier at 213-740-0238.”
SENATORS JOHNSON, MCMORRAN, AND SHIFF are currently revising a task force proposal titled, Mental Health Access and Patient Education (MHAPE). The task force, once approved, will allow a group of 8 students to work collaboratively with the Student Health Center to redesign the mental health resources page, located on the Student Health Center website under “Services,” and “Counseling and Mental Health.” The task force specifically aims to give student input regarding how the website can be more intuitive and approachable, in addition to what self-help resources students need most.
SENATORS RITCH AND GARCIA met with Dr. Van Orman and Professor Lonergan, the Academic Senate President, to discuss equitable absence policies for students dealing with both physical and mental health issues. By revising the current absence policies put in place by most professors, which requires students to have some sort of doctor’s note, it will allow students to prioritize their mental, emotional, and physical well being, without the fear of penalization.
SENATOR SHIFF met with Jennifer Perdomo, Lead Student Programs Advisor, to set up a mental health liaison position in every registered student organization. A letter will be sent out tomorrow, October 16, to the Executive Board of every registered student organization to open up the conversation on how to implement this new position in a way that would be beneficial to groups of all sizes.
SENATOR KHOSHNIYATI is in discussion with Dr. Kelly Greco about the creation of a video series, modeled after UC Berkeley’s Health Center Video Series that spans from frequently asked questions to how to assist a friend during a crisis. The Student Health Center is currently creating a WellBeing Module for students, but we want to ensure that all student’s mental health needs are met.
SENATORS GARLAND, DONAUE, AND JOHNSON are in the early stages of developing a transportation voucher program for students who have been referred out of the Student Health Center for counseling services. The voucher program aims to cover a portion of the cost of rideshare services.
SENATOR MCMORRAN has facilitated conversations between an outside organization and USG’s Speakers and Concerts Committees to support and develop a high-profile speaker event around the topic of mental health on college campuses and in the entertainment industry.
We, the Senate, again reaffirm our commitment to addressing the mental health concerns on our campus and will continue to see these initiatives achieved. As advocates for the student body, we welcome suggestions, feedback, and student involvement in accomplishing the task of improving mental health at USC.
SEN. Angela Chuang
SPKR. Emily Donahue
SEN. Omar Garcia
SEN. Haley Garland
SEN. Emily Johnson
SEN. Sara Khoshniyati
SEN. Christopher McMorran
SEN. Rose Ritch
SEN. Benjamin Shiff
SEN. Hailey Robertson
SEN. Randi Anderson
SEN. Ben Rosenthal
October 15th, 2019