Attending university or college for the first time can be challenging, and with the onset of mental health illnesses typically occurring during adolescence, this means many students will experience mental health issues around the same time that they begin their PSE journey.
Add in trying to navigate a whole new school, living in a new city, making new friends, and being unfamiliar with the services available, creates a challenging environment for students, one like they’ve never experienced before.
As reported in the StudentVu Accessibility Survey, of the respondents who described having a mental health related disability, 79% said that their academic life and success was affected by this disability or condition.
From the classroom and campus environment, to support services and community partnerships, student success is enabled through initiatives that support mental health, and with mental health issues on the rise, it is critical that PSE institutions provide support and engage their student population.
Creating an open dialogue.
After experiencing an increase of incidents across the country involving students with mental health challenges, one organization felt it was necessary to take the dialogue with their College and University partners to another level.
Campus Living Centres, the largest provider of student housing in Canada, hosted their first ever Symposium on Mental Health & The Student Experience focusing on topics including stigma, conduct, and best practices for mental health on campus.
With over 19 College and University partners across Ontario and British Columbia, Campus Living Centres brought institutions together from across the country to learn from one another and to make great strides to ensure that their approach to mental health on campus is inclusive, comprehensive, and leading edge. Attendees also heard from keynote speaker, Mark Henick, National Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), who spoke about his personal struggle with suicide and how everyone can make a difference on campus and in the community.
Jonna Spadafore, Residence Life Coordinator from Algonquin College Residence notes, “Not only is the sharing of ideas useful, but learning about the intersection of mental health and conduct gave me a new perspective.”
Plans are already underway to make the symposium an annual event, in order to continue the dialogue and share best practices amongst institutions across Canada.
As Greg Hum, Director, Residence Life & The Student Experience says, “We have a responsibility to not only our partner institutions, but more importantly, the students we serve, to ensure we are creating an environment that is supportive and caring, while continuously educating our staff and advocating for an issue that is so important and prevalent in our society today.”
Increasing awareness and actively seeking out solutions to this growing issue is a step towards building a healthy, happy, and successful student population across Canada.
To learn more about Campus Living Centres and the residences they manage, or to be involved in next year’s symposium, please visit www.campuslivingcentres.com.