Not talking about mental health issues is killing students.
I have had the pleasure of leading Imprint Publications for two months, but in that time more than 15 students have come into my office asking if they could write a piece about mental health and suicide because they or their friends have had the urge to harm to themselves.
The university has assembled a task force, the President’s Advisory Committee on Student Mental Health (PAC-SMH) to look into mental health as a reaction to suicides and a Student Mental Health Review from 2012.
The president of the university received the task force’s recommendations and held a forum on Mar. 7 to talk to students about them, but that report is not available online.
I understand that revamping an institution’s practices and policies to better reflect the needs of students takes time, but I think this task force is a half measure at best.
It may benefit students in two to five years, but students are dying now.
What is the university doing to help students right now?
One thing they aren’t doing is participating in Mental Health Week.
Welcome Week fell on the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Mental Health Week, but events did not focus on mental health, when they easily could have.
There were no pamphlets handed out in the SLC to let students know where to go, or who to contact in case they did face mental health instability.
Students were left to fend for themselves.
Events surrounding mental health seem to take place near the end of the semester.
It would make more sense to me to give out mental health information in the beginning of the semester to help students deal with stress and triggers throughout the semester instead of letting it build.
I know students can easily Google mental health resources when they are in a good place, but when they are in a bad place will they reach out for help if it takes time to find what you are looking for? Maybe not.
Would they remember the information from an event or pamphlet? Maybe not, but I think it’s worth a shot.