ACMHI Media Release - January 2014

Students Taking Charge of Mental Health on Campus

More than 60 Student Events Across Alberta

Edmonton, AB – One year after it was first announced, the Alberta Campus Mental Health Innovation (ACMHI) fund has launch more than 60 events, with over 240 mental health supporters involved in the 14 new student-led mental health initiatives at post-secondary institutions across Alberta. The three-year, $1.5M ACMHI fund, created through a partnership between the Alberta Students’ Executive Council (ASEC) and the Government of Alberta, is addressing the growing mental health needs of Alberta's post-secondary campuses.

Across Alberta, student leaders are taking charge of on-campus mental health needs, where peer involvement is often critical in reaching students suffering from mental health issues. Research published by National College Health Association [2013] reviewed Albertan students and shows that over 56% students are facing overwhelming anxiety, with 31% having depression effect their functioning during their academic careers. Student-designed programming varies from campus to campus, and ranges from workshops, to stigma reduction campaigns, to hosting stress-free zones and providing core counselling services. “Students are in the best position to understand the struggles of their fellow learners, and with ACMHI, find ways of reaching out and making a difference,” says Kenneth Taylor, Chair of the ASEC.

But despite the innovative and value-added services being offered through ACMHI, many Alberta campuses are lacking in basic counselling services, including some institutions reducing core mental health support services. With mental health being a problem all students face, more attention is needed to continue to address the growing demand. In March, ASEC student leaders will convene in Edmonton to meet with MLA’s about mental health on Alberta campuses. Says ASEC’s Taylor, “As student leaders, we need to build from the successes we’ve seen with ACMHI projects to make sure that no student is left behind. We need to push decision-makers to make sure on-campus partners can provide sustainable services to students who need them”.