Helping Ontario's colleges and universities enhance capacity to support student mental health and well-being

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Okanagan Charter: An International Charter for Health Promoting Universities & Colleges

The Okanagan Charter is a document formally adopted by six Canadian universities in October 2016. Developed during the 2015 International Conference on Health Promoting Universities and Colleges, which was hosted by the University of British Columbia, the charter encourages institutions to make health and well-being a priority in every policy, action, and even physical space. The health promotion aspect of the charter builds off the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion.

The Charter offers two calls to action for higher education institutions to:

  • Embed health into campus operations, business, academics and campus culture
    • Embed health in all campus policies
    • Create supportive campus environments
    • Generate thriving communities and a culture of well-being
    • Support personal development
    • Create or re-orient campus services
  • Lead health promotion action and collaboration locally and globally
    • Integrate health, well-being and sustainability in multiple disciplines to develop change agents
    • Advance research, teaching and training for health promotion knowledge and action
    • Lead and partner towards local and global action for health promotion

The Charter suggest the following key principles for how to mobilize systemic and whole campus action:

  • Use settings and whole system approaches
  • Ensure comprehensive and campus-wide approaches
  • Use participatory approaches and engage the voice of students and others
  • Develop trans-disciplinary collaborations and cross-sector partnerships
  • Promote research, innovation and evidence-informed action
  • Build on strengths
  • Value local and indigenous communities’ contexts and priorities
  • Act on an existing universal responsibility

The full version of the Okanagan Charter is available here.