The Project Team held regular weekly to bi-weekly 1-2 hour meetings from June 29th, 2011 through February 13th, 2012. During this time, the task force compiled and consulted a variety of publications related to mental health issues on campus and made them accessible on a secure SharePoint site. A list of sources is provided in the references section of this report. These various sources helped shape task force discussions as well as the questions informing the consultation process.

Also, 9 key individuals from across campus came together as a Review Team 6 times over the course of the project. This Review Team was utilized by the Project Team to help provide the wider scope to the overall project.

The campus consultation and research consisted of the following:


Interviews took place with many key stakeholders from within the three units – Health Services, Counselling Services, Office for Persons with Disabilities, as well as the larger university mental health community. Input was gathered from key informants at Grand River Hospital as well as University of Waterloo’s Centre for Mental Health Research.

Also, interviews were also conducted with individuals in other post-secondary institutions where initiatives related to mental health services were recently completed or are in the process of being assessed or implemented. University of Buffalo, McMaster University and Queen’s University were included.

Focus groups

Prior to conducting the focus groups, the Project Team introduced team members at staff meetings in each of Health Services, Counselling Services and Office for Persons with Disabilities mail and anonymous hard copy. In an effort to capture as much input as possible from staff, we held focus groups open to all staff from each of the three units. The purpose of the focus groups was to gather as much input as possible in an open, comfortable environment through a facilitated discussion. The focus group methodology employed was the Nominal Group procedure (Delbecq & VandeVen, 1971).

Focus groups took place in September and involved a total of 52 staff participants. Each person was provided with a personal worksheet asking the following question:

  • “What does the University of Waterloo need to do to improve the campus community’s mental health support system?”

Participants were asked to respond to the above question by responding to the following:

  • “What should the University stop doing and/or what isn’t working well?”
  • “What should the University start or begin to do?”
  • “What should the University continue to do and/or what is working well?”

The facilitators from the Project Team used a roundtable format to give each person the opportunity to share with the larger group one point they felt strongly about. Each person had the opportunity to provide at least one item without interruption. All comments were recorded. Each participant then had the opportunity to indicate up to 6 items they felt most strongly about by “voting”. The Project Team combed through the large data set that emerged, including all personal worksheets (i.e., staff were encouraged to submit their worksheets to the Project Team, either with or without their name) and identified and ranked the prevailing themes.

Discussion with undergraduate operations committee

The Project Team also attended an Undergraduate Operations Committee meeting in the Fall 2011 term where input from Associate Deans across campus was obtained.

Student survey

University of Waterloo students were invited to participate in an online (i.e., utilizing Survey Monkey) “Student Support Survey” with a focus “on the various student services at University of Waterloo that relate to mental health including Counselling Services, Health Services and the Office for Persons with Disabilities”. The students were informed that the Mental Health Review Project “wants to hear from all students at University of Waterloo including both those who have and have not used these services” and that “The information gathered will be used to improve University of Waterloo’s ability to deliver timely, accessible and effective mental health services to all of our students”.

Characteristics of respondents to the student survey include the following:

  • There were 1097 respondents with good representation from all faculties
  • 30% of respondents were 1st year undergraduates
  • 19% were 2nd year undergraduates
  • 17% were graduate students
  • 64% of respondents were female
  • 23% of respondents were first generation Canadians

A review of the current literature was also beneficial. A few key pieces included:

  • A custom research brief prepared for the University of Waterloo by the Education Advisory Board entitled ‘Structuring and delivering student mental health services’. (2012)
  • A 2009 book entitled ‘Towards a comprehensive mental health strategy: The crucial role of colleges and universities as partners’, by the Ontario College Health Association.

The many others are listed in the references section.