SFU renews My SSP mental health program for students
By Braden McMillan
Following a successful two-year pilot in partnership with the Simon Fraser Student Society, Simon Fraser University (SFU) has renewed the My Student Support Program (My SSP) for another three years. The continuation of this program ensures that SFU students continue to have access to confidential mental health supports and services, when and where they need them, at no cost.
My SSP (provided by keep.meSAFE) allows students to make in-person or virtual appointments with a registered clinical counsellor through the My SSP app or by phone at any time of day, from anywhere in the world. The program provides additional support and mental health education for faculty, staff and university departments.
“By making mental health a priority, SFU is showing commitment to fostering a healthy campus community,” says Martin Mroz, director of SFU Health and Counselling Services. “My SSP has proven to be an invaluable resource that complements our existing health and counselling services to ensure all students within our community have access to support when they need it – something that is particularly important currently with remote learning environments and students studying in different time zones.”
Since launching in August 2018, there has been a steady increase in use of the program, with 80 per cent of student users reporting they had never sought out mental health support services before. During the pilot, over 14,400 hours of clinical support were provided for more than 2,800 students, exceeding the initial targets set. Approximately 70 per cent of all clinical sessions were supported outside of regular office hours and on weekends.
Students can access services in six languages and have the ability to request specific counsellor preferences, such as by religious or gender identification. In the near future, My SSP hopes to also provide additional focused services for specific demographics including Black students and members of the LGBTQ2+ community.
“Mental health issues are a significant problem that have only been made worse by the uncertainty and stress caused by the pandemic,” says Joy Johnson, president and vice-chancellor. “SFU continues to invest in the health and wellbeing of our students by ensuring they have the supports and services they need. I’m pleased that My SSP has been well-received by our students and that we are continuing the program following its successful pilot.”
My SPP remains part of a broader strategy to promote timely, accessible, supports for those in need; foster a culture that promotes safety, well-being and a caring community; and health education, including addressing mental health stigma. SFU will be reaching out to friends and partners of the university this fall to garner additional support to enhance similar programming and to provide students with more critical resources.
Students can learn more about My SSP and other supports and services available by visiting the SFU Health and Counselling website.