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Universities in Atlantic Canada are taking a regional approach to address the urgent need for improved mental health services on its campuses.
The Association of Atlantic Universities, representing 16 universities, has appointed Elizabeth Cawley as the full-time regional coordinator to support student mental health initiatives.
The new position was announced at an Atlantic Canadian Conference on Student Mental Health held at Mount Allison University on October 4.
Dr. Cawley brings a personal perspective to the role, having suffered from mental health issues throughout her high school and university years. Diagnosed with ADHD and anxiety in Grade 10, she said she understands the stigma attached to individuals suffering from mental illness and the struggles students face to achieve academically.
Dr. Cawley said her personal experiences have fueled her passion for the topic and made her a better student advocate by giving her a clearer understanding of the issues facing students and the sense of urgency in finding solutions.
Prior to her new appointment, she was completing her PhD in psychiatry at McGill University and doing mental health strategy consulting with other universities.
Her long-term goals as regional health coordinator for the AAU are resource allocation, faculty and staff awareness and training, and the creation of policies that better support student’s mental health. “We need to look at policies through a mental health lens,” she told those in attendance. “We want all policies and procedures to benefit students.”
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