Albertans deserve a government that makes life better. The Government of Alberta is improving things that make a difference in Albertans’ lives like ensuring mental health supports are accessible and available when post-secondary students need them.

Student mental wellbeing is linked to academic achievement, learning, retention and future success.

In 2016, ten Alberta post-secondary institutions participated in the National College Health Assessment survey to better inform their health and wellness programming.

The survey highlighted, over the past 12 months:

  • 57.5 per cent of students felt hopeless.
  • More than 90 per cent felt overwhelmed.
  • 65 per cent felt very lonely.
  • More than 42 per cent felt so depressed it was difficult to function.
  • Almost 64 per cent felt overwhelming anxiety.
  • 13.1 per cent seriously considered suicide, and 2.1 per cent attempted suicide.
  • 18.9 per cent had been diagnosed or treated by a professional for anxiety and 15.4 per cent for depression. 

Mental Health funding

The global amount provided last year was $4.2 million. This included funding to the University of Alberta, Calgary and Lethbridge, Mount Royal University and MacEwan University and the Alberta Students’ Executive Council.

While these funds provided innovative and vital services to students, improvements were necessary to ensure sustainability and equality for students across the province.

Over the next three years, the government has committed $25.8 million, which represents a significant increase in funding to support post-secondary mental health in Alberta.

Advisory Panel on Post- Secondary Mental Health

Advanced Education established an expert advisory panel to develop recommendations for a long-term approach to post-secondary mental health funding and support.

The Advisory Panel included post-secondary students, faculty, staff, Alberta Health Services and the Canadian Mental Health Association.

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In early October 2016, we were asked by the Ministry of Advanced Education to Co-Chair the Advisory Panel on Post-Secondary Mental Health. We could not have been more thrilled and humbled to play a part in this incredibly important work.

The Panel began its work with a strong foundation of knowledge and resources, thanks to the pioneering, often grassroots, efforts of Alberta students and post- secondary institutions in recent years. These efforts were truly remarkable in their creativity and impact, disrupting established institutional norms and structures to transform learning environments from the student perspective. There is no doubt these effort have made Alberta’s adult education system vastly more inclusive, accessible, and supportive for Albertans with mental health concerns.

At the same time, we recognized that many students have not yet benefited from these exciting and crucial breakthroughs, or from mental health service enhancements that were put in place at some campuses through a series of government grants launched in 2013. We were also mindful of the role post- secondary education plays as a determinant of health – particularly given the ambitious and courageous efforts now underway to transform Alberta’s addiction and mental health system through Valuing Mental Health. The need and opportunity to put in place a dramatically more effective approach to supporting the mental health of all post-secondary students are significant.

In this context, it is an honor and a privilege to formally submit the Advisory Panel on Post-Secondary Mental Health’s report and recommendations to the Deputy Minister of Advanced Education, the Minister of Advanced Education, and Cabinet. These recommendations reflect our best thinking and advice to government regarding actions needed to make our post-secondary education system more accessible and inclusive for Albertans with mental health concerns, and to foster the life-long wellbeing of all students.

We thank you for this opportunity. We would also like to thank all Advisory Panel members for their time and dedication to this process, as well as post-secondary institutions across Alberta that hosted Advisory Panel meetings.

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