Issue 1: Student Mental Health/Campus Support

Statcan reported over 2 million students enrolled in post-secondary programs nationally. They are usually overlooked and considered ‘healthy’, but mental illness is on the rise.

Supports for students on campus remains a concern, with counselling intakes taking years in some cases.

Post-secondary education often marks a transitional phase in a student’s life.

The cost of tuition and living costs means taking out a student loan. The Financial stress can have an impact on student mental health.

New environment creates pressure, along with making new friends and being removed from old relationships. This time of change can contribute to a decline in mental health.

Stress is compounded in a field that requires an unpaid internship or practicum.

Students come from all types of backgrounds and some students experience multiple vulnerabilities to mental health issues and barriers to accessing care. Racialized students and students experiencing poverty may also experience more difficulties in accessing care and accommodation.

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Who is advocating for students?

  • Students, parents, families, on and off-campus health services & counselling services, counsellors, physicians, student society’s health plan, universities.

  • The College Student Alliance, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, Colleges Ontario and the Council of Ontario Universities wrote a report with central principals and key recommendations (November 2017)

  • Student organizations in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island called on their governments to fund mental health programs to improve the mental fitness and wellbeing students

  • Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) published a policy paper entitled, Breaking Down Barriers: Mental Health and Canadian Post-Secondary Students

  • Some universities have dedicated services and awareness buildings - For example, University of Manitoba

Who can make change?

Post-secondary education and health are mostly the responsibilities of provincial governments. The federal government also plays a role, particularly in funding and in setting standards for health care. You can reach out to key ministers, critics, and other representatives who are invested in the importance of youth, mental health, and student well-being. Universities and student bodies may also be important decision makers.

  • Provincial governments

  • Ministry of Education (Provincial/territorial)

  • Ministry of Health (Provincial/territorial & federal)

  • Minister of Youth Affairs (Provincial and Federal)

  • Student Societies with health plans

  • Department of Student Services

  • Board of Governors at Post-secondary Institutions

What is being done right now?

In 2017, 7 Canadian universities and colleges took part in a Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) led pilot project to teach students how to better understand and manage their mental health.

Ontario’s Mental Health Innovation Fund (MHIF) has led to the creation of the Centre for Innovation in Campus Mental Health.

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