It is widely accepted that the broader organizational context has an impact on the wellness of those within it. Institutional structure and policies contribute to its culture by reinforcing certain values, beliefs and behaviors; and discouraging others. How a post-secondary institution is structured and its strategic goals, policies and practices therefore all impact members’ mental health, which in turn, impacts members’ learning. Addressing this area requires assessment of the degree to which these organizational elements support mental health and engage the whole person in the learning process.
- Institutional vision, mission and strategic goals that reflect the importance of mental health as a foundation of learning and contribution to the public good.
- A process that reviews campus policies and procedures with a mental health lens and is informed by established principles such as accessibility, student autonomy, flexibility, and equity.
- Established processes for program evaluation and continuous improvement of offices, departments, services and resources that include criteria related to fostering employee and student well-being.
- Built in accountabilities for departments, staff and faculty to support student mental health.
- A reward system for educators that reinforces curriculum and pedagogy that enhance student mental health, recovery, and well-being.
- Campus policies and practices that operationalize legislation related to the accommodation of members with mental health issues and address the role of faculty and staff in authorization and required documentation.
- Policies and practices that effectively address disruptive and threatening behaviour in a manner that is sensitive to mental health concerns.
- To what degree does the institution believe that it is responsible for promoting mental health as vital for integrated development and learning, for employees and students? Is this commitment embedded in the institution’s mission statement?
- What is the support for this within senior administration? To what degree are campus leaders committed to creating the conditions that support mental health? Who are these champions on your campus?
- How is mental health supported within an institution’s strategic goals and resource allocation? In what others ways is the institution’s commitment to promoting well-being communicated to faculty, staff, students and the broader community?
- To what degree does the institution engage faculty, staff, and students in defining their role in and accountability for supporting student mental health?
- To what degree does the institution recognize the impact of historical inequities embedded in society and in the structure of the institution on members’ learning and well-being?
- What values, beliefs and behaviors are reinforced by policies and practices, including reward and disciplinary systems (i.e. registration, tenure reward, grading, etc.)? What are their impacts on mental health? What messages do these send to the members about the institution’s ethos? Are new policies and practices needed to better support mental health and learning?
- How are members’ voices and perspectives represented in institutional structure, planning, policy, practices and processes related to mental health? What resources are dedicated to ensure that the voices of students are represented, including those with lived experience of mental health concerns?
- Olding, M. & Yip, A. (2014). Policy approaches to post-secondary student mental health. OCAD University & Ryerson University Campus Mental Health Partnership Project. Toronto, ON: Author. http://campusmentalhealth.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Policy-Approaches-to-PS-student-MH.FINAL_April15-2014.pdf.
- GermAnn, K. & Ardiles, P. (2009). Toward flourishing for all…: Mental health promotion and mental illness prevention policy background paper. http://www.bcmhas.ca/NR/rdonlyres/90672D9C-AFC9-4134-B52D-B956C12A4E56/35226/TowardFlourishingBackgroundPaperFinalApr09.pdf.
- Victorian Government Department of Health (2010). Using policy to promote mental health and wellbeing: An introduction for policy makers. http://docs.health.vic.gov.au/docs/doc/C2E6B62830B45B0DCA2578CC00191E9A/$FILE/policy.pdf.
- Silverman, D., Underhile, R. & Keeling, R. (2008). Student health reconsidered: A radical proposal for thinking differently about health-related programs and services for students. Student Health Spectrum, June 2008, 4-11.
- Jackson, M.L. & Weinstein, H.M. (1997). The importance of healthy communities of higher education. Journal of American College Health, 45(6), 237-241.
- Health Officers Council of BC (2011). Public health perspectives for regulating psychoactive substances: What can we do about alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs? http://drugpolicy.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Regulated-models-Final-Nov-2011-1.pdf