The Committee on Student Mental Health will host the University of Waterloo's inaugural Virtual Conference on Student Mental Health Research on November 5th, 2020, as part of Thrive Week. The goal of this event is to bring together members of the Waterloo community to share knowledge, connect researchers, and promote mental wellness through 10-minute oral presentations and pre-recorded poster presentations. Topics broadly pertaining to student mental health will be explored with an emphasis on the following key themes:
- Prevention of mental health issues and promotion of mental health-care strategies
- Suicide prevention
- Impact of trauma and sexual violence
- Effects of racial injustice
- Effects of sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination
- Harm reduction approaches to substance use
- Mental health impact of COVID-19
This event was created in response to Recommendations 35 from the President’s Advisory Committee on Student Mental Health (PAC-SMH), which calls for further exploration of the development of a research institute or specialty area in student mental health and wellness. In addition, the conference is a response to Recommendation 14, which calls for initiation of a continuous dialogue in the campus community regarding the above mentioned themes.
Poster presentations will be available to adjudicators and attendees ahead of the event, which includes time for attendees to ask questions and engage with poster presenters. Posters submitted by students are eligible for a cash award provided by the Office of Research. By highlighting multidisciplinary faculty and students conducting research in emerging adult and post-secondary mental health and wellness, we aim to create connections that will serve as a base for the development of a UWaterloo research network on mental health modeled after the Network for Aging Research.
Since February of this year, the committee has voted to confirm the completion of 7 PAC-SMH recommendations:
- Recommendation #4, development of proper recourse mechanisms for students who allege a violation of an approved accommodation request related to mental health;
- Recommendation #13, adoption of best practices in space planning, redesign, and allocation;
- Recommendation #21, development of a campus-wide training program in resiliency;
- Recommendation #28, investment in training and research for underserved and disproportionately affected populations;
- Recommendation #29, promotion and enhancement of available funding for mental health services on and off campus;
- Recommendation #31, engagement with off-campus mental health services and community partners; and
- Recommendation #35, exploration of a research institute or specialty area in student mental health and wellness.
A formal request to extend the CoSMH mandate and funding from December 2020 to April 2021 has been approved by the Office of the Provost.