Interview with Association of Atlantic Universities

Posted on August 10th, 2018

The Centre for Innovation in Campus Mental Health spoke with Elizabeth Cawley, the Medavie Healthy Campuses Coordinator for the Association of Atlantic Universities (AAU).

The newly created position works to establish and initiate implementation of an AAU Post-Secondary Student Mental Health Strategic Plan. Elizabeth was appointed to the position in 2017 and has served in that role since with a three-year funding commitment from Medavie Health Foundation.

The organization and role first began in 2011, when Universities Canada met with senior college and university administrators, to facilitate a national discussion on the rapidly emerging mental health needs of post-secondary students.

The Atlantic leaders attending this event were committed to focused action following multiple deaths by suicide on campuses across the country, including in Atlantic Canada. This focus led to the creation of the AAU Healthy Campuses Working Group representing over 100,000 students.

The AAU Healthy Campuses Working Group committed to collaboration among post-secondary institutions on a regional basis. Following a series of regional workshops in 2012 and 2013 along with a summit in 2015, the Working Group was able to take the next step and move from discussion to action.

With the opportunity to move forward, the following nine priorities for the Atlantic Region were set:

  1. Make bold changes in institutional structures to eliminate silos and integrate health and well-being into the core mandate of universities;
  2. Apply a “healthy campus” lens to ensure that mental health initiatives are organic, inclusive and sustainable;
  3. Promote mental health fitness based on multiple determinants of health;
  4. Ensure that the campus community capacity for health and mental health is responsive to early indicators of changes in wellness;
  5. Apply strengths-based approaches to campus interventions aimed at improving health and well-being;
  6. Ensure availability of highly accessible, just-in-time mental health supports;
  7. Ensure that crisis management is proactive;
  8. Ensure that engagement, planning and action are in partnership with regional community-based health programs and the Canadian Mental Health Association.
  9. Ensure an evaluation framework that uses evidence-based assessment

Read the full interview

If you would like to learn more, visit or send Elizabeth an email: [email protected].


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