By: Allison O’Brien UPEI students signed letters and hearts this week about why mental health matters. The letters and hearts will be sent to Canada’s Minister of Health to underline the urgent need for action on student mental health. (Allison O’Brien)
This week, UPEI participated in the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) national mental health campaign called #StudentsLetsAct. The campaign is a call to action for the federal government to help the hundreds of thousands of students across Canada who are struggling with mental health.
CASA is a non-for-profit student organization composed of 23 student associations across Canada. Their primary purpose is to advocate on behalf of post-secondary students to the federal government.
The campaign coincided with #BellLetsTalk day to take the discussion around mental health and put it into tangible action to help support those who are struggling.
“A lot of students need help, and we’re now standing up and demanding it, loudly,” says Emma Walsh, CASA Advocacy Director and St. Thomas University Students’ Union VP Education.
According to CASA, post-secondary students are confronted with many risk factors upon beginning their education, including the pressure to perform academically, losing support networks, and taking on new responsibilities. Additionally, the age at which most students begin post-secondary education is also the common age of onset for mental illness.
CASA is proposing several ways in which the federal government can help students struggling with mental illness, including expanding the Canada Student Grant for Students with Permanent Disabilities to include those with temporary illnesses, and increasing the grant by 50%.
According to the 2016 National College Health Association Survey:
44% of Canadian students reported feeing so depressed in the past year that it was difficult to function.
13% of Canadian students reported having seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year.
2% of Canadian students reported having attempted suicide in the past year.
18% of Canadian students reported being diagnosed or treated by a professional for anxiety in the past year.