The Alberta Students’ Executive Council (ASEC) successfully launched the 2014-2015 year of the Alberta Campus Mental Health Innovation fund (ACMHI), with over $480,000 released across the province to 14 Students’ Associations. Students are taking ownership of mental health on campus to actively improve their students’ mental health by hosting campus stigma reduction campaigns, and stress reductions events, among a series of new services and training opportunities. In 2013, ACMHI initiatives reached over 60,000 students with support from institutions and community stakeholders. So far this year approximately 58,000 students have been reached, with anticipation that many more will be reached this winter semester.
Over the first semester students have benefited from new peer support services, and stress reduction campaigns targeted during difficult exam times. Each Students’ Association (SA) commenced mental health initiatives with specialized approaches to the needs of their students and campus, where Students’ Association now offer unique initiatives, for example:
- Relaxation oxygen bar
- Tea sharing corners
- Mobile couches
- Creative Wall Spaces for student art
- Mental Health Gaming
- Peer supports
- Bathroom Emergency Information
To better understand the needs students are facing today, ACMHI launch a survey that received 1617 student responses from 12 post-secondary institutions across the province. According to our survey results, 63% of students are facing significant stress frequently and 58% of students are overwhelmed with what they have to do. While only 39% of students are finding ways to cope with their struggles. According to data collected from the beginning of semester, 39% of student were aware of mental health services on their campus, and few (34%) were aware of available community services.
Tables 1, above, summarizes the current reach and number of events that have been hosted from September to December. while Table 2 provides a summary of this years SA activities.