The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) has led the development of the National Standard of Canada for Mental Health and Well-Being for Post-Secondary Students. This followed two years of research into the problems post-secondary students face with mental health.
“We recognise that the majority of mental illnesses are first diagnosed between the ages of 16 and 24, when many are in or just out of post-secondary education,” Louise Bradley, President and CEO of the MHCC, said. “Students may be experiencing even higher levels of stress and anxiety as the pandemic unfolds. There is a clear and pressing need. This new national standard will help post-secondary institutions address this critical societal issue for our young people”.
The Student Standard is a flexible, voluntary set of guidelines to help post-secondary institutions establish policies, programs, and processes to support and promote mental health. This has come at a critical time in the wake of COVID-19, as more students have reported that they are worried about their mental health.
“As post-secondary institutions across Canada rapidly shifted to online learning, it created a lot of uncertainty for students, while heightening their feelings of stress and anxiety over concerns about health and safety, isolation, finances, and the future,” explained The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA).
Released during Mental Illness Awareness Week earlier this month, The Student Standard was developed in collaboration with Bell Let’s Talk, The Rossy Foundation, RBC Foundation, and Health Canada. It is adaptable, so that each post-secondary institution can decide what is achievable based on their situation, resources, and community context.
“The challenge will be making sure that the students, staff, and faculty work together to implement the standard rather than working in silos. Funding for adequate mental wellness services is also key, and CASA has been asking the Federal Government for support for students,” explained Akanksha Bhatnager, the Communications and Public Relations Officer for the CASA.