Introduction

The Centre for Innovation in Campus Mental Health (CICMH) is a partnership project of Colleges Ontario, The Council of Ontario Universities, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, the College Student Alliance and the Ontario Division of the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Our mission is to help Ontario’s college and universities enhance their capacity to support student mental health and wellbeing. We do this by facilitating a campus mental health community of practice, by coordinating access to expertise and by fostering and supporting innovation. CICMH is funded by the Ministry for Advanced Education and Skills Development.

In Ontario, there is an increasing and compelling need for the Post-Secondary Education (PSE) sector to meaningfully respond to the mental health and addiction needs of its student populations.

According to the report ‘In it Together: Taking Action on Student Mental Health’ released in 2017 by the Council of Ontario Universities, Colleges Ontario, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance and the College Student Alliance, mental health currently represents one of the most pressing issues on PSE campuses.

As many as 75% of mental health disorders first appear before the age of 25 and according to the 2016 National College Health Assessment (NCHA) online survey, the cases of depression, anxiety and suicide attempts are increasing among Ontario’s post-secondary students. For example,

  • The number of students who reported experiencing overwhelming anxiety increased from 58% in 2013 to 65% in 2016;
  • The number of students who reported feeling so depressed that it was difficult to function increased from 40% in 2013 to 46% in 2016;
  • Students who seriously considered suicide also increased from 11% in 2013 to 14% in 2016.

As students experience such things as the demands of post-secondary studies, living on their own for the first time, relationship stresses or financial burdens, mental health and addictions services in the PSE sector become increasingly important. In response, significant strides have been made to ensure that mental health and addictions services and supports are available on campuses in Ontario. Understanding what the results of services being provided are, and having good data to continually improve services is critical to meeting the needs of students as effectively as possible.

We are invested in growing the capacity of frontline staff at colleges and universities in Ontario to effectively evaluate the impacts of their mental health and addictions services and initiatives. This toolkit is an important step toward building that capacity

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