Home National Standards Mental Health Policy Inventory

Mental Health Policy Inventory

Introduction

Just as the Rubric can inspire reflection and change regarding different mental health services and programs at your institution, this section supports an investigation into your policies. While you navigate how your post-secondary institution can implement the Standard, it is important to reflect on the present and the future.

Questions to ask Yourself

Presently, what policies, services, and programs within your campus community connect with the six pillars identified in the Standard? And in future, what changes or additions do you need to make to these policies, services, and programs to better align with these pillars:

  • Supportive, Safe, Inclusive Post-Secondary Environment
  • Mental Health Literacy, Education, and Stigma Reduction
  • Accessibility
  • Early Intervention
  • Mental Health Supports
  • Crisis Management and Postvention

When assessing your post-secondary institution’s current policies, it may be helpful to:

  1. Create an inventory of current policies, understanding how they align with the Standard;
  2. Have some key questions in mind that will help identify which of your institutions policies affect the mental health and wellbeing of students and, to that end, what policies may be missing;
  3. Group the mental health and wellbeing policies under the appropriate pillar(s);
  4. Identify which pillars your policies most strongly align with, and which they do not yet connect with․
The following guiding questions can serve as a tool for reflection on your post-secondary institutes’ mental health and health-adjacent policies.
  • What policies support the mental, physical, emotional, and social health needs of your students?
  • What new or recent policies within your post-secondary institute have the potential to benefit students’ mental health?
  • What policies are foundational to mental health programming and/or practice within your campus community?
  • What is your institution’s understanding of how to use inclusive language, specifically within policies?
  • What do you notice when you examine mental health policies and compare them to policies that impact mental health (e.g., an exam policy)?
  • What existing policies are in alignment with the pillars of the Standard?
  • What are some overlooked areas in which policies make a difference to students’ mental health?
  • What policies are missing? Which pillars are emptier than others?
  • How do the policies consider the varied lived experiences of equity-deserving groups?

A fillable sheet with these questions is available here

Exam policy example: There is a policy in place where a student can only request to change their exam schedule if they have 3 exams within a 24 hour time period. If a student has 3 exams within 25+ hours, this policy doesn’t allow the student to change their schedule. The stress and anxiety of having those exams in a small period of time, because of this policy, can negatively impact their mental health.

Example Policies

Below is a set of example policies that align with each of the six pillars named in the Standard. Many policies could fit under each pillar, and some could fall under more than one. The purpose of these examples is to help you reflect on:

  • the current policies within your campus community;
  • potential opportunities or additions that can strengthen your campus community’s commitment to the Standard.

Pillar: Supportive, Safe, Inclusive Post-Secondary Environment
Sample Policy: Sexual Violence

To encourage a more supportive and safe campus, embed a sexual violence policy within your campus community. This policy can encourage victims of sexual violence to come forward and know that their stories are being heard and validated. Furthermore, the policy can include an inquisition process that protects the rights of the affected individual(s) and holds the individual(s) who committed the act accountable for their actions.

Pillar: Mental Health Literacy, Education, and Stigma Reduction
Sample Policy: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Embedding anti-stigma and anti-discriminatory perspectives into a post-secondary policy that focuses on stigma reduction and can broadly promote, educate, and inform all members of the campus community on the importance of mental health. This type of universal policy recognizes mental health and wellbeing instead of stigmatizing it.

Pillar: Accessibility
Sample Policy: Academic Accommodation

The policy could focus on differentiating between accessibility, which focuses on proactively designing programs and services with as few barriers as possible; and academic accommodations, which focuses on individualized plans for students seeking accommodations. Academic accommodation is an umbrella term that can encompass all services, strategies, and adaptations to curriculum deliverables that provide the student seeking accommodations with equal opportunity to meet the academic standards required of them. This policy supports students seeking accommodations by promoting a safe and respectful campus.

Pillar: Early Intervention
Sample Policy: Wellness Check

A wellness check policy and procedure help ensure that early, quality care is provided equally across campus to all students showing early signs of distress. A wellness check policy ensures that there is a standardized procedure for assessing students’ mental health and wellbeing, which allows for an effective and thorough assessment. Following this initial assessment, an effective policy might also have a designated set of resources that are accessible within the community and post-secondary institute, as well as a follow-up procedure implemented within the policy to guarantee the student(s) are well supported.

Pillar: Mental Health Supports
Sample Policy: Care Coordination

Given the complex and diverse needs of students, care coordination — a synchronous delivery of support and resources from different providers and specialists from both the campus and community — can positively impact students. Embedding a care coordination framework allows for efficient response time that improves student wellbeing and instills a collaborative approach that reduces the degree to which the campus community works in silos. Areas of care coordination can include sustaining mental health and wellness through supportive environments, using a whole campus approach, and fostering a collaborative environment between multiple domains of health and wellness.

Pillar: Crisis Management and Postvention
Sample Policy: Suicide Postvention

A referral pathway, that is, the specific mechanisms that connect students, along with a follow-up procedure for students following a suicide threat or attempt within your campus community, creates a supportive and sustainable process for all individuals involved when embedded in policy. This policy involves campus-wide support and creating partnerships with local community mental health agencies to help ensure that students referred to treatment are getting the help they need and are assisted throughout the process. Within the policy, you can also implement a procedure for following up with those who were affected by the suicidal individual (e.g., family, witnesses, friends); they can be made aware of the support available and how to access it.

Guide: PDF Version