Council Update: CSU Signs Off on Deal to Provide More Mental Health Services

Union to Sponsor Upcoming JMAS Tax Clinic

The CSU voted in favour of adding Empower Me to the unions health and dental plan on Wednesday night File Photo Brian Lapuz

The Concordia Student Union will be expanding mental health coverage within the undergraduate health plan. Alliance pour la santé étudiante au Québec, the union’s health and dental provider, has recently offered Empower Me, a new online mental health and wellness service for students.

On Wednesday night, council voted in favour of adding Empower Me to the undergraduate health plan, which will be available to students after Feb. 1. Finance Coordinator John Hutton said adding the service will cost the union almost $33,000.

“Empower Me is a new way for students to access mental health services,” Hutton said. “By integrating a network of mental health specialists across Canada that can be accessed through an app, students have more options on how and when to speak to a professional.”

Empower Me will allow students a 24/7, year round access to connect with counsellors, psychologists and other mental health professionals across Canada. Hutton said students can also use the service to book appointments with therapists, or choose to speak with a professional over the phone or by video call.

Students will also be given the option to access professionals at Concordia’s counselling and psychological clinic as well.

“[Empower Me] has a network of mental health services and psychologists […] all across the country that are a part of this network and then call in or Skype in to the students,” Hutton explained. “You would be set up with a specific counsellor, and unless you ask otherwise you would be seeing the same person, building a rapport with someone you can trust.”

The phone and video option also allows for a larger team of therapists that students can access, which will result in shorter wait times, Hutton mentioned.

Hutton said that ASEQ is also working with Concordia’s health services to integrate Empower Me.

JMAS Tax Clinic Sponsorship

Council also voted in favour of sponsoring the John Molson Accounting Society’s upcoming tax clinic in March, with a grant of about $8,000.

The tax clinic will take place between March 9 and 10, and will provide free tax returns and professional training for low-income individuals within the Concordia community as well as families in the Montreal area.

The CSU will also be offering marketing assistance for the upcoming event, to help raise awareness, because according to JMAS co-president Marco Rossi, reaching students outside of JMSB is weaker.

“Our school or program does not teach students how to use tax software, which is where JMAS comes in,” said Rossi at council. “We provide education to these students on how to use the software that will be used in the [work place].”

Last year’s tax clinic saw 400 tax returns completed, but will look to increase the number this March.