MHCC embarks on a two-year project to develop a mental health standard

As post-secondary institutions grapple with the increasing awareness of the mental health needs of their students, there is an opportunity to put forward best practices that support mental health and wellness on campus.

Enter the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s (MHCC) leadership on the development of the first standard for psychological health and safety for post-secondary students. To be released in 2020, the standard is funded by Bell Let’s Talk, The Rossy Family Foundation, RBC Foundation and Health Canada and key partners include Colleges and Institutes Canada and Universities Canada.

Over the next two years, the MHCC will work with the CSA Group, one of the largest standards development organizations in North America, to establish the key tenets of an easy-to-implement framework to empower post-secondary institutions to better safeguard the mental wellness of students. Like the workplace standard, it will be voluntary and accompanied by a practical set of tools and resources.

The standard will build on existing seminal work such as the post-secondary student mental health guide co-developed by the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services and the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Canadian Alliance of Student Association policy paper, Breaking Down Barriers, and the Okanagan Charter, a health promotion framework used internationally by universities and colleges. It will also tap into existing networks of pioneering universities and colleges, student organizations and education advocates.

“Post-secondary students are the workforce of tomorrow and, like the broader workforce, they deserve a standard that protects their psychological health and safety and supports their success,” said Louise Bradley, MHCC President and CEO. “Given we know young adults ages 20 to 29 have the highest rate of mental health problems and illnesses, the long-term payoff from investing in prevention and early intervention for post-secondary students is self-evident.”

The standard will address the needs of a wide spectrum of students including emerging adults between the ages of 16 and 25, mature students and returning students. It will also consider the various stages of student life transitions, including first-year entry and graduate studies.

Broad consultations with students, staff, faculty, unions, families and caregivers get under way this fall.

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