Addressing campus mental health

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Courtesy University of Waterloo

The discussion around mental health on campus has been more prevalent than ever in the dawn of 2018. On May 24, President’s Advisory Committee for Student Mental Health (PAC-SMH) was formed dedicated to improving mental health programs on campus. The council sits students from multiple faculties and has seats for current Feds execs. They met on Mar. 14 to propose needed actions in the face of students’ declining mental health.

At the panel, the UWaterloo President Feridun Hamdullahpur said, “I am so grateful that the moment we announced that we were forming this committee … we received thousands of people wanting to participate, wanting to engage, wanting to contribute. And we are able to bring everybody together from the committee, and I’m so proud that in a relatively short time, we were able to consult and talk to every person, every group possible on our campus and outide of our campus.”

On the day of the panel, these recommendations were being discussed allowing for feedback and questions. Some of the recommendations included easing the transition for students from school terms to work terms, more mental health training for staff, and a better mental health culture campus-wide. Specifically, the council hopes to achieve more due dilligence in the creation of new academic calendars and plans, increasing of confidentiality for mental health patients, and better help for those that face addiction.

“We were looking at collecting a broad set of imformation on student mental health, considering UW student body, and larger societal context; advising on the status of progress, mental health initiatives across the university, and looking at root causes of student stress, anxiety and depression; and how to mitigate them proactively,” Director of Campus Wellness Walter Mittelstaedt said on the PAC-SMH’s progress.

On Mar. 12, the University of Waterloo announced that they would be investing an additional $1.2 million in mental health programs on campus. This includes their push for added counsellors and an expansion of previous counselling services, with a goal of one counsellor for every thousand students.

You can find the full report findings and the recording of the panel in its entirety on the PAC SMH website.