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What is the issue?

Post-secondary education can be exciting and transformative, but it can also be challenging. On any given day, most college and university students are juggling academic, financial, and personal demands.

It’s no wonder an increasing number of them are experiencing mental health problems. In fact, more than 75 per cent of first-time mental health diagnoses occur between the ages of 16 and 24.*

What are we doing?

The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), in collaboration with CSA Group, is leading the development of a Standard on Psychological Health and Safety for Post-Secondary Students (PSS Standard), set to be released in 2020.

Like the Standard developed for the workplace, the PSS Standard will be a set of voluntary guidelines to help academic institutions

  • raise awareness and decrease stigma around mental health
  • increase access to student supports, on and off campus
  • promote life and resiliency skills students can use at school, at work, and in daily life
  • provide healthier and safer institutional environments
  • improve opportunities for student success.

Watch this video to learn more about the PSS Standard.

How the PSS Standard is being written

CSA Group’s Technical Committee, made up of diverse experts and stakeholders in the field, are responsible for developing the PSS Standard’s contents. All feedback gathered from the various initiatives shown below were shared with the Technical Committee for consideration.

Research and Development

A literature review by Dr. Heather Stuart and her team at Queen’s University provides information on emerging and promising practices for the psychological health and safety of post-secondary students.

Read the summary or request the full report.

Informing the Draft Standard

Initiatives by the MHCC and its partners to inform the draft PSS Standard:

  • an online survey (with 2,400+ responses)
  • interactive discussions at local, regional, and national conferences
  • dialogues and information sessions
  • partnerships with over 60 organizations dedicated to engaging their communities
  • Dialogue in a Box toolkit to help individuals host their own events (700 downloads, 70+ submissions)

Public Review

During the 60-day public review of the draft PSS Standard

  • more than 1,700 comments were shared on CSA Group’s public review web page
  • the MHCC received input from 14 focus groups (more than 230 people) representing diverse perspectives and key interests.


The CSA Group Technical Committee is now reviewing these comments and working to develop the first edition of the PSS Standard. Stay tuned for the launch in 2020!

To learn more:

* Kessler, R. C., Berglund, P., Demler, O., Jin, R., Merikangas, K. R., & Walters, E. E. (2005). Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R). Archives of General Psychiatry, 62, 593-602. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.62.6.593