Campus Mental Health In Times of COVID-19 Pandemic – CACUSS

Data-informed Challenges & Opportunities

Higher education all over the world has been facing tremendous challenges regarding the mental health of students, further exacerbated by COVID-19. The Campus Mental Health Community of Practice from the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services has been surveying counselling center evolving needs and trends for the past two years. In April 2020, the survey was modified to reflect COVID-19 realities. More than 60 PSIs participated in this survey, with representation from each of the ten provinces and territories and colleges (24%). The data has allowed to compare the COVID-19 related challenges with prior data and information from emerging practices at an international level.

Specifically, the survey results share webinar perceptions of student mental health from the perspective of campus mental health service professionals / administrators and student affairs administrators. The findings illustrate how students have embraced or continue to face challenges in adapting to remote mental health services delivery. We also share challenges faced by postsecondary institutions in making their mental health services amenable to online adaptation and outline specific infrastructural needs, at the various and ongoing phases of COVID-19 pandemic.

This report presents synthesized perspectives on crisis management, how to respond to most vulnerable students, ensuring accessibility, inclusion and ethos of social justice from multiple perspectives. These include voices of from nationally representative sample of mental health professional and insights from emerging research findings. Towards the end of this report, we have consolidated these perspectives to offer pragmatic ideas, suggestions and recommendations to leave our readers with ideas for actions to shape their campus based mental health services according to the evolving circumstances of COVID-19 pandemic. We are fully cognizant and sensitive to ongoing challenges of campus-based mental health professionals face to balance professional duties and personal care to prevent burnout. This report includes a number of appendices including student’s narratives, 25 salient articles, summarized with key insights with practice implications, COVID-19 related psychological measures, COVID-19 related mental health resources at various PSIs and list of free apps and web platforms.

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