Students Vote to Maintain Their Health Care Services
Students will receive online ballots starting April 9 for a student referendum vote on a new fee to help support the services offered by Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS).
UCSF is not the first campus to propose a student referendum. Six other UC student health and counseling services also have student referendums. UC Berkeley, Davis, and Santa Barbara Student Health Services have a student referendum. UC Santa Barbara and Berkeley Counseling and Psychological Services also has a referendum. UCLA Counseling and Psychological Services receives referendum-based income from an Undergraduate Student Associate Referendum.
While demand for services continues to grow, SHCS’s budget will no longer be able to cover all care and services provided without additional funding starting next fiscal year.
SHCS provides healthcare services to all registered students, including those who waived the UC Student Health Insurance Plan (UC SHIP). Students are currently able to access care at two locations, a clinic at the Parnassus campus and one at Mission Bay.
Both clinics provide a wide array of services including: primary care, mental health counseling, psychiatry, travel health consultation and immunizations, dietician services, nurse advice, IUD placements, contraceptive counseling, minor procedures, vaccinations, TB screening, and hormone therapy for transgender care.
SHCS also has a robust outreach program to help students deal with the many challenges unique to being a UCSF student. Weekly lunch-time programs, along with other programs such as mindfulness workshops, are offered each quarter that address topics such as stress, relationships, micro-aggressions, eating and nutrition topics, mindfulness, working effectively with your PI and many more.
These services are in jeopardy without additional income to support the staff who provide the services.
SHCS provides less visible services for students as well that will be impacted without additional support. SHCS works behind the scenes on a daily basis to advocate for students. SHCS offers annual trainings and individual consultations for staff and faculty to help them support students who are having difficulties.
The SHCS "Mental Health Matters" awareness campaign is another example of how SHCS works to create a culture that supports students’ success and wellbeing. SHCS monitors students’ health needs related to the health insurance plan and works with student representatives to recommend improvements to the UC SHIP.
Instituting coverage for psycho-education testing and ensuring students who visit the SFGH ER have their bills covered are a few examples of how SHCS has served students’ interests from a policy perspective. SHCS also supports the 24/7 mental health crisis line students may access if they need to speak with a counselor urgently.
SHCS is highly utilized and demand for services is on the rise. SHCS understands that timely access to care is paramount to supporting students through their very rigorous and stressful lives and academic programs.
Last year, 95% of students had an in-person visit with either a primary care clinician, nurse, mental health counselor, dietician or psychiatrist at SHCS. As the stressors students face in life and school intensify, SHCS has seen increases every year in the number of students requesting mental health visits.
Last year, visits increased 20% and 24% of the student body accessed mental health services.
The upcoming vote is critical to students’ ongoing access to the care received at SHCS. Voter turnout is very important. The referendum vote only qualifies with a minimum voter turnout of 12%. Average turnout in the previous three years was 10.3%.
The proposed fee includes a 25% return-to-aid component as required by policy. The proposed first-year fee of $48/quarter would be divided between SHCS services ($36) and need-based financial aid ($12).
Details on the actual proposed fee and how it will be managed can be found on the SHCS website. If you have a question about the fee, you may also ask it there!