McMaster joins in call for new, integrated mental health strategy

November 2, 2017

McMaster is joining Ontario’s students, colleges and universities in calling on the province to take immediate action on the growing problem of student mental health with an integrated strategy that begins in kindergarten and continues through high school, post-secondary life and on into adulthood.

A joint report released Nov. 2 calls for a ‘whole-of-community’ approach by government, health-care providers, community agencies, student associations and postsecondary institutions including mandatory curriculum to teach resiliency in young people, an early-warning system throughout all levels of education, counselling, and expanded use of technology – all at no cost to students whether they live on or off campus.

In It Together: Taking Action on Student Mental Health was released today by four groups representing the province’s 45 colleges and universities and more than 220,000 students.

In the report, the four partners - the College Student Alliance, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, Colleges Ontario and the Council of Ontario Universities – say providing effective support for student mental health is one of the most pressing issues on college and university campuses today, and that postsecondary institutions have made addressing it a priority but can’t meet the challenge alone.

Other recommendations in the report include:

  • An update to Ontario’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy to recognize postsecondary students as a distinct group
  • Clearly defined roles across four Ontario government ministries to ensure no service gaps
  • Close working relationships between post-secondary institutions and local health-care and community agencies to develop and implement a plan to help students with mental health concerns
  • Free mental health care for students – on and off campus – through increased services not currently funded by OHIP
  • Government investment in transition programming for high school students as they prepare to enter postsecondary

Last week, McMaster provided an update on the advancement of its Student Mental Health and Well-being Strategy.

Since the Strategy’s 2015 introduction, hundreds of students and staff have received specialized mental health training, more front-line mental health professionals have been hired in the Student Wellness Centre and an improved student accommodation policy is in place.