Progress on Student Mental Health Initiatives Continues at Waterloo

University of Waterloo Students and mental health

It has now been a year since the President’s Advisory Committee on Student Mental Health submitted their comprehensive final report and list of 36 recommendations to be implemented and I can assure our community that progress will continue to be made.

The Committee on Student Mental Health (CoSMH) was tasked with implementing the recommendations through deep collaboration with on-campus and community stakeholders, and through their hard work a total of 72 per cent of the report’s recommendations are either in progress or have been completed.

Completed recommendations include the signing of the Okanagan Charter, training and timely information for faculty and staff to support students and making information and resources about mental health easy to find.

Those resources also include the addition of 7.5 full-time mental health professionals and 3 full-time health promotion specialists. These added resources are integral to meeting the needs of our students.

Ongoing Progress on Recommendations

Activity and improvement does not stop with the strides we’ve made. Action is being taken on additional recommendations, such as the creation of a working group dedicated to address academic-related recommendations.

Recommendations that will be examined by the working group are:

  • Recommendation #5 (exams and evaluations),
  • Recommendation #7 (universal instructional design), and,
  • Recommendation #16 (supporting faculty’s professional development).

We are making the investments both financially and in time to make an impact. There is no initiative more important to me than the health and well-being of our students and I believe that the discussions that are happening and the plans that are being developed will lead to fundamental and comprehensive action. Only then will we have lasting improvements for the student experience at our institution.

Beyond all of the investments and actions being taken by the CoSMH, one of the biggest, and most impactful outcomes of the committee’s work is the tremendous support and contribution of our community. I cannot think of a stronger outcome than the understanding and support of ALL behind student mental health.

Open Dialogue and Communication are Essential

As we continue to make mental health and wellness a priority on our campus, one thing has shown to be of the utmost importance: communication. We also learned that no positive action can take place without open dialogue and the desire to keep those lines of communication open across our community. This includes reaching all of our students, faculty and staff and engaging them in this process.

We all have a role to play in strengthening mental health and wellness and a lasting legacy of support. Thank you to everyone who has added their voice, expertise and passion to this essential initiative. Progress would not be possible without your continued help.

Know that this will be a never-ending process of learning and improving. Our innovative nature as an institution means we cannot become complacent with the progress we’ve made, even when all 36 recommendations are completed. Mental health and wellness is an evolving challenge that we must evolve with in tandem.

I encourage our entire community to continue engaging in this process through your voice and actions, and to stay connected by visiting the Student Mental Health website that includes our Progress Dashboard, monthly updates from the CoSMH, and your opportunity to submit feedback to the CoSMH.

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