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University of Calgary puts big focus on mental health after 'hard-hitting' survey results

The University of Calgary has a new mental health strategy for the campus.

Provost and Vice-President (Academic), Dru Marshall told 660 NEWS that the intitiative has been a year in the works.

“Essentially, at the heart of it, I would say it’s about creating a caring community,” Marshall said. “But one where we hope to reduce stigma around mental illness on our campus so that people are open to talk about the issues that they’re experiencing and that we can help them get the help that they need.”

Eight per cent of students had thought about suicide, one per cent had attempted, and a large number of people had been wrestling with mental health issues like depression, according to a survey.

Marshall said the school had to act after they saw the results of a 2013 campus-wide poll that showed that 90 per cent were overwhelmed, 64 per cent were lonely and 58 per cent said they felt overwhelming anxiety.

“One of the the major turning points is we participated in the National College Health Assessment Survey,” Marshall added. “And the results were pretty hard-hitting. A high proportion of responders were experiencing mental health difficulties.”

Marshall also said they are taking a comprehensive approach to eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health issues and they are letting people know that help out there.

There is a task force that used an approach based on the World Health Organization’s Healthy for All strategy that looks at six themes:

Raising awareness and promoting well-being
Developing resilience and self-management
Enhancing early identification and self-management
Providing direct service and support
Aligning institutional policies, processes and procedures
Creating and sustaining a supportive campus environment

More details can be found here.