York University approves a new mental health strategy for students, faculty and staff

peerYork University has approved a comprehensive new mental health strategy that will focus on fostering student academic success and a better workplace.

The University is moving from the more traditional response of providing care after a mental health crisis has arisen to a more proactive, preventative approach of building a healthy community by addressing pressures before they reach a crisis stage.

“In any given year, one in five Canadians will experience a diagnosable mental health problem or illness,” says York’s President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri. “We are taking a leadership role in the creation of a healthy university that advances early detection and health promotion.”

As is currently the case with millions of Canadians, a significant number of York University community members are at risk of experiencing depression, loneliness, feelings of overwhelming anxiety or anger, or some form of mental illness in their lives. A lack of awareness of available support services and acknowledgement of mental health concerns can compound the issue. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds.

York University’s mental health strategy will achieve its goals through a commitment by its leadership, an assessment of current systems, and the development of new policies and procedures that respond to community need. Expansion of the University’s capacity to support mental health and a reinforcement and development of new partnerships and collaborations will provide a coordinated response.

Over the next 18 months, the University’s new mental health steering committee will work on policy development and building awareness of campus resources. As part of the strategy, the University will roll out a new software training program called Mental Health EDU – an online, 20-minute mental health program that will be made available on Moodle – that is designed to assist faculty and staff in understanding how to help students in distress, using an approach that fits their individual comfort levels.