The grant will be used to host discussion groups on campus and will provide information for a new mental health standard.
Annalisse Crosswell, Associate News Editor
In the Capilano Students’ Union’s (CSU) latest endeavour to emphasize the importance of mental health and provide support for students, they have applied for and received a grant from the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC). The grant will be used to collect information from students about what support they need, and then provide this information to the MHCC. The information will then be used to develop a standard for Canadian students psychological health and safety. This follows a standard that the MHCC previously developed for psychological health and safety in the workplace.
The $3,200 grant will allow the CSU to provide food and incentives to get students to attend focus groups, as well as funding advertising for the seven workshops. The workshops themselves will be targeted at specific student groups that tend to have higher rates of mental illness, such as women, and queer and Indigenous students. Students will be asked questions in a discussion group, and will be able to provide silent feedback. The questions asked will tackle the specific challenges that students face with their mental health, their personal experiences and additional support students feel they need.
“We’re getting to a point where it’s almost redundant to ask ‘why does mental health matter?’ We know that it is extremely important…” said CSU President and Vice-President Equity and Sustainability Anna Rempel. She is leading the initiative alongside Kate Jarman, director of student spaces, Lori Kosciuw, director of operations and advocacy, Jessica Degaust, office coordinator and Jody Armstrong, community wellness strategist. Though it will not hold universities legally accountable, she believes that having a standard will give post-secondary institutions something to strive towards as well as providing an outline for students to approach their universities with when they are falling short.
“It’s us being able to reach out to our membership and be able to get a better understanding of what challenges they’re facing, which helps us in all of our advocacy, but it also helps students across Canada through the development of the standard,” said Rempel. The workshops, though they are not directly aimed at improving mental health on campus, will likely allow the CSU to provide feedback to the University and make changes to their own initiatives.
The development of the standard is tied to the Students Let’s Act campaign run by the CSU in partnership with the Canadian Alliance of Students Association (CASA). The Students Let’s Act campaign called on students to write their comments about the importance of mental health on one half of a heart. The half heart was sent to Ottawa along with specific asks that CASA had for federal policy around mental health. The other half of the heart had a QR code that students could use to access the MHCC website where they were able to do a survey for the development of the standard.
Rempel believes that professors sometimes forget that students have stresses outside the classroom and that, despite awareness, there are still stigmas surrounding mental health that need to be addressed. She stressed the importance of the process. “[The development of the standard is] necessary, because this, in some cases, is a life and death matter, but also because we as a university should be uplifting our students at every possible opportunity that we have to help them do the best that they possibly can,” she said. The workshops will be taking place from Mar. 18 to Mar. 19.
The headline of this article has been amended to include the correct grant amount that the CSU received from the Mental Health Commission of Canada.