Updates from the PAC-SMH and supporting panels will be posted here on a monthly basis.
January 2018 Progress Report - Deadline Extension
The five panels (Mental Health Experts, Student Experience, Student Services, Community Partners, and Academic) have been regularly meeting over the last four months to work through their given mandate questions. The panels all approached their work employing various techniques included key informant meetings, environmental scans, literary reviews, and policy/process reviews.
The panels have now submitted their reports to the chair of the PAC-SMH for consideration. With the help of the advisory committee, the chair is finalizing the final report and plans to submit it to the University President mid-February. After the President’s review, the next steps will be determined, including continuing to communicate to the larger community (including public distribution of the reports, a town hall, etc.).
October 2017 Progress Report - Panel Symposium
September 2017 Progress Report – PAC-SMH and Panels
The PAC-SMH has been inviting key partners from across campus to attend its bi-weekly meetings in order to hear directly from service providers and learn more about the front-line impact of student mental health. Partners from Counselling Services, Health Services, and Housing & Residences have shared their experiences and insights which have been invaluable to the advisory committee as it seeks to understand all facets of this important issue at a deeper level. Representatives from the Student Success Office will attend a future meeting and a survey has been distributed to undergraduate and graduate academic advisors to provide their valuable insights.
The PAC-SMH has also been working to compile a comprehensive inventory of initiatives, programs, and services that support mental health and wellness at UW. The inventory is still in progress but it is already incredible to see the many ways, both formal and informal, that our community works to address and support student mental health.
A half-day Panel Symposium has been scheduled for Tuesday, October 24th so that panels can come together once more to share information and report on progress. There will be a livestream from the symposium where you can watch the PAC-SMH Panel representatives provide reports on their progress and send in questions for them to answer from 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Panel representatives will also be available that day to participate in a Q&A session being planned as part of the Federation of Students Annual General Meeting.
The Mental Health Experts Panel continues to meet with subgroups focusing on two priority areas: clinical services and mental health promotion. Discussions have focused on the review of several service modal proposals, conditions needed to promote mental health on campus, capacity considerations, and efficiency of service delivery to name a few. Moving forward, the panel will turn its attention to mental health promotion best practice and plans, a review of strategies for screening used by crisis service providers, and a review of external Mental Health Standards for service provision.
The Student Experience Panel has created three subgroups in order to fulfill its mandate. These include a group focused on a survey intended to assess the current state of the student experience as it relates to mental health service and support; a group focused on interviews to gather qualitative information from students; and a research group who will look at the student experience at other institutions as a form of comparative analysis to inform their recommendations.
The Student Services Panel continues to operate as six smaller working groups each tasked with focusing on one of the mandate questions. The Panel has employed surveys, interviews, site visits, and environmental scans to help address their various questions. They have identified the need to clearly define key terms related to student mental health (i.e. wellness, resilience, etc.) so that everyone is working with a common understanding.
The Community Partners Panel continues to meet regularly and is having very active and engaged conversations on various themes. These themes include increasing education and awareness in terms of information sharing between UW and community service providers; joint projects that can continue beyond the PAC-SMH process; capacity building especially during peak times; and working with community service providers to better support those individuals in need of elevated levels of support. The Community Partners panel brings together people from a wide variety of perspectives and organizations, including partners from off campus who make time to come to University of Waterloo to contribute to the panel process.
The Academic Panel’s four subgroups are meeting regularly and aiming to make final recommendations actionable and measurable. The focus of the subgroups includes academic load, course and program design, student rankings, and VIFs and instructor support and training. The panel is exploring these themes by way of literature review, policy and process review, meetings with key informants and offices/departments, survey, environmental scans, and systems explorations.
August 2017 Progress Report – PAC-SMH and Panels
The PAC-SMH and Supporting Panels (Academic; Mental Health Experts; Student Experience; Student Services; and Community Partners) have been busy since the Panel Launch Day kickoff event in July. The following overview provides information about the progress made over the last month by the PAC-SMH and the panels. Monthly reports will be posted here through December 2017. Supporting Panels are required to submit their final report to the PAC-SMH by December 15th, 2017 with a final report from PAC-SMH to the President due in January 2018.
The PAC-SMH will be inviting key partners from across campus to attend future PAC-SMH meetings over the course of the fall term in order to hear directly from service providers and learn more about the front-line impact of student mental health.
A half-day Panel Symposium is being scheduled for Tuesday, October 24thso that panels can come together once more to share information and report on progress. Panel representatives will also be available that day to participate in a Q&A session being planned as part of the Federation of Students Annual General Meeting.
In order to address their mandate questions in the timeline provided, most panels have decided to establish smaller working groups to focus on specific questions and themes. The panels have been meeting regularly, whether as large groups or sub-groups, in-person and online to share information and address their mandate questions. Focus groups, surveys and key informant interviews are some of the tools being developed to help panels gather information.
- The Academic Panel has organized itself into four subgroups that will focus their efforts on topics including academic load, course and program design, competition, and academic related support for students with mental health concerns.
- The Community Partners Panel has identified many themes important to student mental health including, but not limited to, on and off-campus mental health resource collaboration and facilitation, funding for off-campus mental health services, substance use connected to mental health, and reviewing peer-to-peer strategies and programming.
- The Mental Health Experts Panel has convened two working groups to address their mandate questions. One will focus on clinical care and services and the other will focus on mental health promotion strategies.
- The Student Services Panel has met as a large group and as smaller working groups. Six working groups were formed with each group focusing on one of the six mandate questions provided. They have identified that there is good awareness of wellness initiatives and resources on campus but that better communication and increased awareness is required.
- The Student Experience Panel has identified several priority theme areas to focus their work including campus culture, campus environment, community housing, student experiences, and general working conditions. They are also seeking to better understand barriers to access and care, strengthening transparency and communication structures throughout all levels of the University, and creating and sustaining a genuine and supportive campus community.