Prevent mental-health care crises on campus

Posted on August 15, 2017 in Education Delivery System – Opinion/Editorials – As young people leave home to head to universities and colleges, they may need to access more mental-health supports. Schools must be prepared.
Aug. 14, 2017.   By STAR EDITORIAL BOARD

Call it a perfect storm. Most university and college students move away from home to attend school for the first time in their late teens or early 20s — the exact age range when the majority of mental-health issues tend to surface.

That can leave students who are in crisis trying to navigate a complicated health-care system in a strange city, without friends or family to support them.

As the Star’s Peter Goffin reports, demand for mental health services at Canadian post-secondary institutions has reached an all-time high. But schools don’t seem to be prepared to meet the growing need, a failure that can have grave consequences.

While no university or college can meet the full spectrum of students’ mental health needs, schools can and must do more to improve existing supports.

That’s why even the $6-million boost in annual funding announced last May for college and university mental-health services is so important.

That modest investment could begin to bridge the gap between the growing need and the capacity of schools to meet it, advocates, students and staff told the Star.

Among their recommendations :

  • Supplement school counselling and peer-support by having mental-health professionals make regular visits to campuses.
  • Provide mental-health care at the same locations as the other campus health services so students are less likely to forgo help for fear of the stigma.
  • Better support students as they seek out and undergo care off-campus.

New post-secondary students may have moved away from their families and communities, but our schools should ensure those in need aren’t on their own.

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