In an effort to combat the issue of student mental health, Ontario students and faculty released a joint report titled “In It Together: Taking Action on Student Mental Health.” The report was revealed to MPPs at Queen’s Park in Toronto on Nov. 2.
“In It Together” was created by the College Student Alliance, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA), Colleges Ontario and the Council of Ontario Universities. The four groups represent Ontario’s 45 universities and colleges.
The joint report calls for a broad government approach to tackle the issue of student mental health, seeking action from healthcare providers, community agencies, student associations and post-secondary institutions.
“The stigma traditionally associated with mental health issues is finally diminishing,” the report says. “There is growing recognition that a diagnosis for clinical depression is no more a cause for embarrassment than the discovery of a physical, more visible illness.”
AMS Vice-President (University Affairs) Palmer Lockridge told The Journal via email that “the recommendations in ‘In It Together: Taking Action on Student Mental Health’ push the Ontario Government to be proactive in addressing the current challenges that face students with mental health issues.”
“We have consistently heard from our students that wait times both on and off campus make it more difficult to find help when they need it most,” Lockridge wrote. “Providing the best resources for Queen’s students requires a community approach and students are looking for government, universities, and healthcare providers to work together to provide timely mental health services in a safe and comfortable environment.”
According to the report, 75 per cent of mental health disorders first appear amongst people aged 18 to 24. On top of this, a National College Health Assessment survey of college and university students reported that last year, 46 per cent of students reported feeling so depressed that it was difficult to function.
“In It Together” sets out a series of recommendations calling for an update to Ontario’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy to “recognize post-secondary students as a distinct group.” The report also demands implementing clearly defined roles across four Ontario government ministries to “ensure no service gaps.”
In a news release, OUSA President Andrew Clubine wrote, “student mental health is a growing concern on post-secondary campuses across the country.”
“Students are calling on the province to take an integrated and comprehensive approach to improving mental wellness supports so that they can succeed both on and off campus,” Clubine continued.
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