Last night, students made it loud and clear that they want better mental health and wellness support on campus.
This year’s University Students’ Council elections included a mental health plebiscite, asking “Would you like to see student mental health and wellness included as a high priority of Western’s Strategic Plan in perpetuity, potentially at the expense of the funding and support of other priorities?”
Overall, 6136 students voted “yes" and 10.7 per cent voted "no," with the "yes" option winning 89.3 per cent of the votes. Results from the election night saw just over 20 per cent of students voting in the plebiscite. The plebiscite was successful, as results of any referendum or plebiscite are binding only if a minimum of 20 per cent of the student body votes.
The purpose of the plebiscite was to allow Western to use the feedback to revise its strategic plan, which is set to be released in the spring of 2018. The draft mental health plan identified four strategic objectives which included promoting a resilient campus community, developing effective mental health communication, developing an inclusive curriculum to support mental health and providing accessible mental health and wellness services.
In a statement to the Gazette, Active Minds Western said that they were extremely pleased that a majority of the students voted “yes” in the mental health plebiscite.
“We hope Western administration and the USC will further discuss steps towards progress. We, Active Minds Western, will remain strong advocates for student mental health and wellness on Western’s campus, and we plan to hold the relevant parties accountable for taking appropriate action in light of this response."
Different from a referendum, a plebiscite is not binding. Instead, a plebiscite allows students to vote on an important question to help advise, guide and plan future actions by the USC and Western administration.