Mental health services should not be ‘one-size-fits-all’

Institutions need diversified care options

Emily believes mental health care should evolve alongside conversations.
Supplied by Emily Gillon

This article discusses mental illness and may be triggering for some readers. The Canadian Mental Health Association Crisis Line can be reached at 1-800-875-6213.

Over the last 10 years, there has been a growing awareness of the importance of mental health. This awareness is inherently good and has given rise to more accessible mental health services and accommodations in workplaces, schools, and healthcare.   

However, the addition of new mental health services has not eliminated all the problems accompanying new accommodations at an institution. 

Mental health is in many ways related to and just as important as physical health—but mental health treatments are not like physical health treatments. If you go to the doctor with a broken leg, there's a predetermined plan of action which will likely work.  

Mental illness should not have one-size-fits-all treatments like this. Where one person might need time off from work, another might require therapy and medication. Mental health issues are highly personal and therefore require personalized treatment.  

The problem with many mental health services implemented by schools or workplaces is the diversity and personalization necessary for these services are not properly considered.  

Queen’s Student Wellness Services has an array of accommodations and forms of therapy available to students, though its not without its flaws.

The problem with seeking care through any institution is all the mental health services they offer are short-term, while long-term, quality care remains inaccessible.  

While institutions claim they provide an abundance of mental health services, only a portion of those in need find services that are actually beneficial to their mental health. The remaining individuals are left to struggle without proper support. 

This one-size-fits-all characteristic of many mental health services or accommodations can be credited to a lack of institutions evolving alongside mental health conversations.

In 2010, mental health awareness and de-stigmatization became a largely discussed topic in mainstream media. This newfound awareness was arguably thanks to Clara Hughes and her partnership with Bell in launching the “Bell Let’s Talk” campaign. 

Mental health services were considered taboo not long ago. People were reluctant to admit they needed help or were struggling with their mental health.  

Following the emergence of the “Bell Let’s Talk” campaign, many schools and workplaces began implementing mental health support or services. In 2014, Queen’s University partnered with Bell to create a mental health training program.

At the time, steps towards destigmatizing mental health were so novel that one-size-fits-all approaches were celebrated and promoted. 

Now, as the conversation continues and society’s knowledge evolves, institutions need to constantly update the services and treatments they offer. Workplaces and schools have stayed stagnant for far too long—there's no one way to go about treatment.  

This type of oversight is a problem specific to mental health. 

If an individual needed stitches and wasn't responding to typical treatment plans, hospitals wouldn’t throw up their hands and say there wasn’t anything more they could do. Instead, they would try a different approach to restore the patient back to full health.  

Physical health treatments are largely based on the evolution of different types of treatment. In Canada, physical health research expenditures are estimated to have  been around 4.3 billion in 2021. With new knowledge comes new courses of action for treating all physical health ailments, improving the health of all Canadians. 

There needs to be a renewal on how educational facilities, workplaces, and society see and treat the mental health of students, peers, and co-workers. We need diverse and individualized mental health services to see the most progress and receive the best care. 

We are all different people with different needs—treatment should reflect that. 


Emily Gillon is a second-year biology student.

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