Provincial governments support students when they invest in mental health

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Quality mental health resources should be a guarantee on post-secondary campuses, no matter where a student chooses to go to school.
 
The British Columbia (B.C.) government recently announced plans to launch a free 24/7 mental health counselling and referral service available to all post-secondary students across the province. The service will support all post-secondary students, including domestic and international students, and those enrolled both full- and part-time in school.
 
Introducing young Canadians to accessible mental health services sets them up for a healthy, positive relationship with these services in the future. Devoting resources to provide this access to students on post-secondary campuses is a much-needed provincial investment, and other Canadian provinces and territories should take note.
 
Mental health is an important and ever-present issue on post-secondary campuses. 
 
The culture of higher education—stressful classes, short deadlines, high-stakes evaluations—creates an environment that’s all too conducive to poor mental health and overall wellness. When post-secondary schools cultivate stressful atmospheres that can negatively impact students’ mental health, they certainly owe them the supports and resources they need to overcome these challenges.
 
Reliable mental health services are something every postsecondary student should be entitled access to. Unfortunately, this access is something institutions across the country have failed to guarantee.
 
At post-secondary institutions in Ontario such as the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, and here at Queen’s, students have long expressed their dissatisfaction with the limits of the schools’ available mental health resources. Long wait times, a lack of diverse counsellors, and inaccessible services are all failures that stem from institutions that are ill-equipped to manage their resources successfully on their own.
 
Schools often offer sufficient support and resources for other aspects of wellness, such as healthy eating and exercise. Mental health has implications just as serious as physical health. Without adequate resources, students’ lives can be and have been lost—which means mental wellness should be just as serious a priority for post-secondary institutions to support.
 
A province-wide solution, like the service soon to be implemented in B.C., will hopefully mean students will no longer have to factor available mental health services into their decisions when choosing where they are going to study.
 
Many Canadian post-secondary institutions have demonstrated, time and time again, that they can’t successfully implement mental health services that meet the needs of their students. 
 
Following in the footsteps of the B.C. model, more provinces and territories in Canada should pursue free and consistent mental health services on all post-secondary campuses.
 
 

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