Queen’s collaborates with St. Lawrence to develop mental health resources

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Resources will assist students to get accommodations at secondary school

Mike Condra (center), former Director of HCDS, at his retirement party earlier this year.
Mike Condra (center), former Director of HCDS, at his retirement party earlier this year.
Credit: 
Supplied by Queen's Communications

In a collaborative effort between Queen’s and St. Lawrence College, a new set of mental health resources are now available to accommodate students at post-secondary schools across Ontario.

Researchers released a list of recommendations along with videos and an information and resource handbook.

According to The Queen’s Gazette, the project has been in the works for three years. It aims to develop province-wide standards and guidelines for students seeking academic accommodations.

The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities funded the joint research project through the ministry’s Mental Health Innovation Fund.

Dr. Mike Condra — who retired this summer — spearheaded the research from the Queen’s side in his capacity as Director, Health, Counselling and Disability Services (now known as Student Wellness Services). 

“There’s probably a good deal more work that needs to be done in the area of mental health and we’re hoping the government — the provincial government — will continue,” he said.

To get the project going, Condra said he looked into strategies for ensuring that guidelines for academic accommodation would be successful.

“The question is what kind of documentation do students need in order get accommodations, what kind of accommodations are appropriate and how we decide?” Condra said.

The project had three parts: a set of recommendations on providing mental health accommodations, eight videos about the accommodation process and an informational handbook.

The eight videos provide information on mental health accommodations for students and faculties that may need more information. They also give examples of situations that students and professors may need to address, such as what the accommodation letter looks like and what a professor needs to know to make the process run smoothly.

The information and resource handbook, meanwhile, acts as a guide to academic accommodations and mental health on campus. It will be available both in English and French.

The project’s organizers also hope to train students, faculty, disability advisors and counsellors, student leaders and administrators on how best to accommodate students with mental health disabilities.

Moving forward, Condra said, he hopes this project will have a future at universities across the province.

“It does involve colleges and universities looking at their practices in the area of accommodating [students],” he said.

Condra said discussing mental health issues can be a little precarious, as there’s a stigma surrounding the topic in our culture.

“When we start to talk about accommodation for students with mental health problems, it’s wise to put them under the umbrella for accommodations for students with disabilities, rather than single them out in a group.”

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