Project Overview

The guide illustrates a framework for addressing student mental health in post-secondary institutions. The purpose of the guide is to be used as a tool to support the creating of campus communities that are deeply conducive to transformative learning and mental well-being through a systemic approach to student mental health in colleges and universities in Canada.

Background

National Organizations Focus on Campus Mental Health:

Release of a national resource to support campuses in their response

June 18, 2013

Montreal, Quebec—The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) and the Canadian Association of Colleges and University Student Services (CACUSS) are launching a unique document designed to support campuses in their responses to student mental health. The resource, Post-Secondary Student Mental Health: Guide to a systemic approach, is a first-of-its-kind resource that helps colleges and universities to plan comprehensive action to improve student mental health. It will be launched during the annual CACUSS conference, taking place June 18-20, 2013 in Montreal.

CACUSS and CMHA BC Division, who took a lead role on behalf of the national association, have collaborated for over three years on this resource. Over 300 people from 70 post-secondary institutions across Canada contributed to the document, speaking to the broad impact and reach of mental health on campus.

“So many of our members have identified mental health as a priority issue at their campus. This guide will help campuses to take comprehensive action to improve overall campus mental health,” says Jennifer Hamilton, Executive Director of CACUSS.

With yesterday’s release of the largest set of data describing Canadian students’ health behaviours by the Canadian Organization of University and College Health (COUCH), this new national resource has particular relevance.

“This data supports the need to focus on mental health on campuses across Canada. Investing today in mental health promotion and prevention initiatives will benefit young people immensely throughout their lives. CMHA is pleased to see the launch of this guide, and we look forward to supporting continued work inthis area,” says Peter Coleridge, National CEO, CMHA and Bev Gutray, CEO, CMHA BC in a joint statement.

View the Official Press Release 

Get Involved

This guide is designed as a resource to support the creation of campus communities that are deeply conducive to transformative learning and mental well-being through a systemic approach to student mental health in colleges and universities in Canada. It provides a framework to support campus self-assessment, strategic goal setting, and the identification of options for change that can be used to inform planning and evaluation. It is recognized that each post-secondary institution has unique strengths, circumstances, and needs. Therefore, while the broad areas for strategy development identified in this guide are relevant for all institutions, more specific strategies within each category need to be developed by each individual institution. This enables each institution to develop strategies that consider its own uniqueness and context.

Even though the approach outlined in this guide is targeted at whole institutions, these ideas can also be used by students, staff, and faculty for individual units or departments within institutions. While the focus of this framework is on student mental health, this in no way minimizes the need to address the broader scope of health, recovery and well-being on campuses, inclusive of faculty, staff and students. It is also recognized that the mental health and well-being of a student’s family, friends, and community members, organizations and institutions of employment, and general socioeconomic, cultural and environmental conditions have an impact on a student’s mental well-being. However, this framework does not focus directly on improving the mental health of staff, faculty and students’ personal networks, nor does it provide guidance on addressing conditions ‘outside’ post-secondary institutions.

To learn more about how you can apply the framework described in the guide to your campus setting, visit the Take Action page.

Tools and Resources

Post-Secondary Student Mental Health: Guide to a Systemic Approach

Click to download the complete guide as a PDF document to view the framework for addressing student mental health in post-secondary institutions as developed by the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services (CACUSS) and the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).

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Post-Secondary Student Mental Health: Guide to a Systemic Approach

Figure 1: Dual Continuum Model of Mental Health and Mental Illness

View the 2011 MacKean model adapted from The Health Communication Unit at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto and Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario; based on the conceptual work of Corey Keyes. 

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Post-Secondary Student Mental Health: Guide to a Systemic Approach

Figure 2: Framework for Post-Secondary Student Mental Health

View the Framework for Post-Secondary Student Mental Health that illustrates the broad areas of a systemic approach to post-secondary student mental health. Learn more about this model in the Take Action section of our website.

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Post-Secondary Student Mental Health: Guide to a Systemic Approach

Figure 3: Healthy Universities—Operational Planning, Implementation and Management

Model adapted from Doherty, S. and Dooris, M. (2006) The healthy settings approach: the growing interest within colleges and universities. Education and Health 24(3): 42-43. 

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Post-Secondary Student Mental Health: Guide to a Systemic Approach

Appendix C: Post-Secondary Student Mental Health: Assessment and Planning

Download this document for assessment and planning at your own institution.  Type directly in the document to outline your institution’s strengths, areas that are in development, gaps/areas for growth and outcomes/evaluation.

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Post-Secondary Student Mental Health: Guide to a Systemic Approach

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