Better mental health care

TC Media
Published on January 5, 2017

Gabrielle Morrison (from left), vice president, finance and administration at St. Mary’s University; Duff Montgomerie, deputy minister, Nova Scotia Dept. of Labour & Advanced Education; Peter Halpin, executive director, Association of Atlantic Universities; Dr. Stan Kutcher, project lead of Pathway Through Mental Health Care for Postsecondary Settings and Research Chair in Adolescent Mental Health at Dalhousie University and IWK Health Centre; Bernard Lord, CEO, Medavie; Sophie Helpard, executive director, Students Nova Scotia.

©Submitted photo

Postsecondary students will have access to improved mental health literacy and on-campus mental health care with Pathway Through Mental Health Care for Postsecondary Settings. Led by Dr. Stan Kutcher, a renowned expert in adolescent mental health, the three-year initiative is supported by over $600,000 in funding from Medavie Health Foundation.

Pathway through Mental Health Care for Postsecondary Settings will build on proven youth mental health components to create, evaluate and disseminate a comprehensive and effective campus mental health framework. The framework, which will be field-tested at postsecondary campuses in P.E.I. and Nova Scotia, could serve as a model across Canada and internationally. Participating institutions include Holland College, Mount Saint Vincent University, Saint Mary’s University, St. Francis Xavier University and Nova Scotia Community College.

Pathway through Mental Health Care for Postsecondary Settings was launched recently at Saint Mary’s University with partner, postsecondary and student representatives in attendance.

Since late 2011, the Foundation has committed almost $7.5 million to over 50 single and multi-year grant and partnership programs, some of which have yet to be announced.


Mental health on Canadian campuses:

–Approaches to campus mental health in Canada are fragmented; many lack evidence of effectiveness and are often focused on mental health awareness/ promotion rather than improving mental health literacy and access to care.

–Smaller institutions may face additional challenges in developing and implementing effective evidence-based interventions.

–Most mental disorders (about 70%) can be diagnosed before age 25, with postsecondary education populations at highest risk for the onset of these illnesses.

–The most common high-volume, low-intensity mental disorders of this group include depression, anxiety disorders and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

–Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people aged 15 to 34 after accidents. In 2012, suicide accounted for 28% of deaths among youth aged 15 to 19, and 25% among young adults aged 20 to 24.