Report released

Paper includes 116 recommendations for a mental health strategy at Queen’s

Principal Daniel Woolf said he’s pleased with the Commission’s work.
Principal Daniel Woolf said he’s pleased with the Commission’s work.
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Journal File Photo

The Principal’s Commission on Mental Health at Queen’s released its final report yesterday morning.

The 53-page report, which includes 116 recommendations, follows the release of the Commission’s discussion paper in June. Since then, the members solicited further input to devise their conclusive recommendations. Principal Daniel Woolf, who launched the commission in 2011, said he’s pleased with the results.

“It’s very thorough in covering a whole gamut of issues connected with student mental health,” he said. “I think it will help the University become a potential centre of excellence in this area.”

The group convened in Sept. 2011 partly in response to what Woolf called at the time “a rather difficult year” during which seven students died.

The report is comprised of four pyramid levels, each of which contains its own recommendations. The levels include promoting a healthy community, easing transitions and fostering resilience, encouraging help-seeking behaviour and providing effective response, service and care.

The commission claims that nearly half of the recommendations have already been undertaken or are currently in progress. According to Woolf, this includes the Green Folder Initiative (which distributes folders containing information and resources for mental health services to professors and TAs) and updating the Summer Orientation to Academics and Resources (SOAR).

The final report recommends providing optional tours of Health Counselling and Disability Services (HCDS), Queen’s Learning Commons, Athletics and Recreation and other health and wellness resources, in addition to the tours already offered by the service.

Woolf said the implementation will be overseen by the Provost’s office, with the incoming deputy provost Laeeque Daneshmend at the helm.

“It’s obviously going to involve a lot of offices and central services such as Student Affairs, the Library, [the Centre for Teaching and Learning] CTL, residences, HCDS of course,” he said, adding that some of the academic recommendations will be discussed at the departmental level and at Senate.

Student input was a driving force behind the report throughout its creation. On Oct. 16, the Commission held a forum to facilitate additional feedback, which was attended by about 20 people. The Commission also met from August to November and during this period, reviewed the input and worked on the writing of the report.

“It’s been a very, very useful process in terms of providing a forum for people to come forward with their concerns about mental health,” Woolf said.

“Particularly groups and individuals that feel potentially marginalized, persons suffering from more severe mental illness, as well as people simply feeling anxiety and stress from exams, transition and so forth, which I think has been very, very helpful in the process of further destigmatizing the subject.”

Woolf said the various offices and services will continue working toward implementing the recommendations.

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