Universities see urgent need for federal government to follow through on student mental health commitment
This World Mental Health Day, Canadian universities are urging the federal government to follow through on their election commitment in 2021 to establish a student mental health fund of $500 million over four years. This direct funding is needed urgently to provide essential improvements to mental health care on campus for students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Post-secondary students are among those most affected by the pandemic. A report published jointly by the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) and the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) in September 2022 reveals that:
- The pandemic negatively impacted the mental health of 3 in 4 students;
- The pandemic worsened students’ pre-existing mental health challenges (74%) and created new mental health struggles (61%); and
- The pandemic disproportionately impacted students who identified as a visible minority, 2SLGBTQ+, Indigenous, living with a disability, or living with a pre-existing mental health concern.
Early intervention provides the best long-term outcomes when it comes to mental health. According to an MHCC report, “Effective intervention at first onset reduces the risk of increased impairments in day-to-day functioning and significantly increases the probability of recovery.” By contrast, “[u]ntreated mental health issues in early adulthood may indicate increased risk of developing severe and enduring mental health problems.”
Without timely intervention, we risk prolonging the mental health effects of the pandemic on students—our future leaders, decision-makers and community members. Interventions must also address the needs of students belonging to equity-seeking groups and be adapted to specific campus needs.
“The 2020 and 2021 cohort of students have faced challenges like never before, and they deserve access to timely and effective mental health care before they graduate. Universities have invested from their own resources and philanthropy. And now it’s time to see the federal government follow through on its 2021 commitment to help ensure students get the care they need and are able to lead full, healthy lives.” – Paul Davidson, President of Universities Canada
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Assistant Director, Communications