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

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Healthy Universities: Developing an Holistic and Joined-Up Approach to Mental Wellbeing

This Healthy Universities Guidance Package introduces the concept of mental wellbeing and describes mental health as existing on a continuum. Both staff and student wellbeing are discussed briefly. It also provides a wider context for mental health, listing recent legislation and strategies that have existed surrounding mental health.

In terms of planning and implementation for a mental wellbeing approach, the guide suggests a holistic and joined-up approach to mental wellbeing can be developed by using a whole system approach that recognises and explores the interconnections between different health-related issues, different groups of the population and different components of the university system. There are a number of key steps that a university can take in planning and implementing a whole system approach to mental wellbeing:

  1. Develop working group to bring services, academic and external partners together (some universities have one working group, other have separate staff and student mental wellbeing groups with coordination mechanisms between them)
  2. Conduct asset mapping and needs assessment
  3. Develop an action plan and targets to cover key elements of the university system
    • policy and procedures
    • service development
    • supportive environments
    • information, campaigns, education for health, enhance personal skills
    • involvement from staff, students and local community
  4. Carry out monitoring and evaluation.

Key internal and external partners for mental wellbeing:

University Student’s Union External
Disability Advice Service Advice Centre Local Voluntary Groups
Health Centre Executive Officers Service User Forums
Health, Safety & Environment Clubs and Societies Primary Care Trusts
Human Resources Participation Officers Community Mental Health Services
Mental Health Adviser
Occupational Health
Personal Tutors
Staff Counselling
Student Services & counselling



The full version of the Healthy Universities guidance package is available here.