The Canadian Association of College and University Student Services released a report this summer revealing that student stress and mental illness are “off the charts”. This is not a recent development; in 2009 a survey of six Ontario post-secondary campuses found that 53 per cent of their students were overwhelmed by anxiety, 54 per cent experienced hopelessness and more than 30 per cent were having difficulties functioning due to depression. More than seven per cent of the students stated that they had contemplated suicide. This is particularly worrisome when suicide is the second most common cause of death for people aged 18 to 24.
On November 21, 2011 a panel hosted by Colleges Ontario convened to discuss mental illness and ways in which to help students cope with the stresses of campus life. Participants at the event included Queen’s University, Seneca College, University of Toronto, George Brown College and Centennial College.
Some ideas and services for assisting students included:
- educational videos on suicide
- student education on what to do if they suspect someone is suicidal
- mental health awareness and skills training for residence dons and student leaders
- residence outreach counselors
- parent orientation sessions that includes mental health awareness
- mental health nurses on student counseling teams
- widely distributed materials for students on stress-busting ideas
- staff training on suicide intervention skills
To read the Toronto Star coverage, go to www.thestar.com.