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Empower and inform

Supporting the mental health and wellness of Memorial's students

Campus and Community

By Elizabeth Furey

Now more than ever, members of the campus community recognize the need to support the mental health and wellness of students.

In the summer of 2020, the Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Standards Council of Canada published standards on the mental health and well-being of post-secondary students.

One of the crisis management standards (5.4.7.) called for “resources for the post-secondary community to build capacity to recognize, respond and refer students in distress to appropriate services.”

In partnership with Memorial’s Student Life Student Support Office, the Student Wellness and Counselling Centre and students and faculty, and with the goals of educating, informing and empowering, the office of the associate vice-president academic (students) has created Memorial’s guide to Recognizing and Responding to Students in Distress.

Step-by-step guide

Students often reach out to faculty, staff and peers to seek support for their wellness and mental health.

However, not everyone is comfortable addressing these matters with students or have the information to provide guidance.

“The supports are there and it’s important that everyone know their role.” — Dr. Donna Hardy Cox

The online resource is a step-by-step guide to assist faculty and staff when helping students who may be struggling with mental health concerns.

“We have noticed students are increasingly turning to their professors and advisors about where to seek help with mental health matters,” said Dr. Donna Hardy Cox, associate vice-president academic (students).

“This guide can help empower and inform faculty, staff and peers so that they can connect students with the help they need. The supports are there and it’s important that everyone know their role in supporting student mental health.”

Clear direction

The guide identifies the steps of recognizing a student in distress, responding to a student in distress and properly referring a student, with examples of possible distress situations included.

Contact information for the Student Wellness and Counselling Centre, the Sexual Harassment Office and emergency services are listed for quick reference, as well.

“We recognize that this is a challenging time for some students,” said Dr. Ken Fowler, director, Student Wellness and Counselling Centre.

“University life can be stressful, but having to adjust to remote learning and cope with the effects of a global pandemic can take a toll on anyone. This quick reference tool will help those supporting students in our community increase their knowledge of how to respond and help a student who approaches them or who displays signs of distress.”

A PDF version of the guide is available for download here.


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