University students who feel stressed or are considering self-harm will have more health professionals and services to support their mental health thanks to new provincial government funding.
The University of Calgary, University of Alberta and University of Lethbridge will each receive $3 million in funding over three years to expand campus mental health and addiction services.
“Helping students learn to cope is just as important as helping them learn,” said Fred Horne, Minister of Health. “The risks of not getting help can be lasting, even devastating. Providing more services is the right thing to do.”
The initiatives supported by this funding would help the entire campus community promote mental health, support students with mental health and addiction issues as well as educate faculty and staff so they know how to recognize and support students with difficulties.
“This funding will have a direct impact on the lives of students at the University of Calgary,” says President Elizabeth Cannon. “It will allow us to enrich the overall student experience and provide a broader range of services to support the unique personal and academic pressures facing students today. This type of support is critically important if they are to reach their potential in their programs, careers and lives.”
Relationship, anxiety, depression and sense of self are the most common reasons students seek professional help. Last year, there was an increase in the number of students who sought help for anxiety, depression, trauma/abuse, addictions and psychiatric concerns. Severe psychiatric disorders, although a small percentage of total appointments, have increased 5.6 times since 2005-2006.
“Many students are asking for help and we have to respond differently by connecting traditional wellness supports with academic supports so that we can ensure students are both successful in their programs and have better lives,” says Susan Barker, vice-provost (student experience).
Debbie Bruckner, director of the University of Calgary Wellness Centre, says this new funding will provide more timely and holistic student support through the creation of a new mental health triage program that will work in collaboration with health services, counselling and chaplains.
Franco Rizzuti, president of the Graduate Students’ Association, says that helping students with mental health and addiction difficulties is a key focus of the GSA.
“All of the initiatives planned with this funding will undoubtedly improve the student experience at the University of Calgary as well as promote student wellness and create more resilient citizens,” says Rizzuti.