Student health plan administrator presents to board

The Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) Board of Directors received a presentation from Studentcare, the administrator of the society’s health and dental plan.

“Our goal . . . is just to give you a little bit of background so that you feel comfortable going into the new year, answering questions that might come up and just being able to speak about the plan,” Studentcare representative Kristin Foster told the board at the July 24 meeting.

The presentation covered the major aspects of the plan, how it is administered, and the most recent initiatives by the company.

Studentcare processed $3.8 million in claims from SFSS members in 2015–16 and the numbers are expected to be up for the most recent academic year, according to Foster.

At-large representative Jaskarn Randhawa inquired as to how the SFSS can better reach students about their option to opt out of the program which is automatically included in their student fees.

Foster said that Studentcare does send alerts each semester and approximately 30% of members choose to opt out of the plan.

The SFSS chief executive officer Martin Wyant noted that the more people who opt out of the program, the higher the cost for those who remain.

Campus groups seek to expand peer support program

The SFSS Women’s Centre and Out on Campus sought support from the SFSS Board of Directors for an initiative that will train students to support their peers who are experiencing stressful situations.

The groups currently offer a peer support service, usually provided by the coordinators, for members who are under stress that is affecting their academic performance.

“Right now at the Women’s Centre and Out on Campus, staff are the only people who can provide that and it takes up a great deal of our time,” said Leah Horlick, the coordinator of the Women’s Centre.

“It is also an excellent opportunity for some volunteer help from the membership who want to get experience with a really useful skill that can be transferred to lots of different situations.”

Many members of the board voiced their support for the creation of the program. Erwin Kwok, vice-president of university relations, noted that peer supports can actually provide greater access to professional services for students who “need that referral.”

The health sciences representative Aarushi Sharma mentioned that she would like to see the program expanded to the Surrey and Vancouver campuses where there are already fewer health resources provided to students.

Jimmy Dhesa echoed the point, recommending that potential volunteers be asked if they are based at any of the satellite campuses.

The SFSS already has an office established at the Surrey campus.  

The demand for peer support has been “steadily increasing” at the Women’s Centre since the start of the year, according to Horlick. As the coordinator, she said she saw eight clients last month about topics ranging from sexual violence, pregnancy, gender identity, finding a job, and getting a divorce.  

Horlick emphasised that the peer support program would not cover crisis referrals, which are provided by the coordinator when someone is experiencing an acute emergency.

“It is maybe not a 9-1-1 type of emergency, but they want to talk to somebody who has a listening ear, who has great non-violent communication and active listening skills,” explained Horlick.

She added that the peers support program “will also hopefully free up coordinator time to focus more on provision of crisis services.”

The board agreed with the recommendation that a survey be circulated to establish the viability of the program before proceeding with its development.