Ottawa, October 10, 2023 – On the occasion of World Mental Health Day, Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan), today, issued the following official statement in partnership with Universities Canada and the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA).
This year’s theme of World Mental Health Day is “mental health is a universal human right,” and like all Canadians, students deserve the right to the mental health care they need.
Students have been among those hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, with challenges like social isolation, job insecurity, and financial hardship exacerbating mental health challenges. Through these times, post-secondary institutions have continued to provide students with mental health care; however, significant government investment is needed now to address unmet and growing demand. Every 1 in 2 students accesses mental health services through their post-secondary institution; however, students cite wait times as the biggest barrier to accessing these supports.
In 2021, universities and colleges welcomed the Government’s promise to introduce a new fund to expand student mental health services at Canadian post-secondary institutions. First introduced in the 2021 Liberal Platform and then included in the mandate letter of the inaugural Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, the fund was promised to support student well-being and increase access to mental health care at colleges and universities.
Two years later, cohorts of students directly impacted by the pandemic are graduating without that additional support. By prolonging the investment in student mental health care, Canada risks prolonging the mental health effects of the pandemic on students—our future leaders, decision-makers and community members.
On World Mental Health Day 2023, students and post-secondary institutions from coast to coast to coast are calling on the federal government to fulfill its promise to introduce a $500 million fund to improve wait times and increase access to mental health care on post-secondary campuses across the country.
“Student mental health is not only integral for academic achievement; it’s fundamental to building a healthy, resilient and prosperous workforce,” says Denise Amyot, President and CEO, CICan. “We’re urging the Government to match the dedication of our institutions in prioritizing this critical aspect of student life by fulfilling its commitments to expand mental health services at post-secondary institutions.”
“We’re only seeing student mental health worsen as time goes on. CASA recognizes the government’s commitment to supporting students’ mental health and we are calling on the federal government to honour their promises made to post-secondary students. Students need the federal government to step up and take action now before it’s too late.” –Wasiimah Joomun, CASA Executive Director.
“Mental health is a critical component of the overall health of students. While universities continue to invest in mental health care for students, we are looking to the federal government to meet its promise and work with us to address the growing demand.” –Philip Landon, Interim CEO and President, Universities Canada.
About Colleges and Institutes Canada:
Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) is the national and international voice of Canada’s largest post-secondary education network. It advocates, builds capacity, and drives knowledge to strengthen Canada’s publicly supported colleges, institutes, CEGEPs, and polytechnics. With more than 95% of Canadians living within 50 km of a member institution, and thanks to its extensive reach around the globe, CICan works to future-proof communities in Canada and abroad.
We respectfully acknowledge that CICan’s offices in Ottawa are located on the traditional and unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe Nation.
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