Canadore College has rolled out a multi-year mental health initiative for its students.

The three-year Student Mental Health and Well-Being Strategy is a framework to modernize the school’s mental health supports.

The strategy began its planning prior to the pandemic, with students, staff and faculty members all involved. Shawna Nielsen, Canadore’s Director of Student Experience and Success says that the timing of the pandemic shows the importance of the strategy.

“We could not have foreseen the global pandemic and the complicating challenges it has created in terms of social isolation, or the limitations we have to deliver our support programs and services, so, this strategy could not be more timely,” she said.

The organizing team assessed the college’s current mental health supports and aimed to determine what was working and what was not. From there, they began developing new strategies to approach mental health in a more contemporary way.

Shawn Chorney, Vice President of Enrolment Management, Indigenous and Student Services says that the college prides itself on its student support, but recognizes that some things need to change.

“In order to meet the changing needs of students, we have designed this strategy as a work in progress with a framework that fosters a refocus on student support with a systemic and holistic lens, he said.

In the most recent Canadian National College Health Assessment, which was done in 2016, it found that nearly 65 percent of students surveyed had experienced “overwhelming anxiety”. It also found that 13 percent had seriously considered suicide, with over two percent actually attempting it.

The Student Mental Health and Well-Being Strategy will continue to be rolled out in the coming months and will run through the 2023-24 academic year.