MRU receives funding for mental health
By Nathan Woolridge, News Editor
According to the National College Health Assessment, Canadian graduate students in the Spring of 2018 answered survey questions that told some of the troubles and worries of post-secondary students. 44.6 per cent of respondents said that they felt “hopeless” in the last 12 months. 84 per cent said they felt overwhelmed with everything they had to do in the last year. This also coming along with 54 per cent feeling very lonely and 83 per cent feeling exhausted.
62.5 per cent of respondents said that they felt “very sad” in the last 12 months. 36 per cent “felt so depressed that it was difficult to function.” Nearly seven per cent of the survey respondents also reported contemplating suicide in the past 12 months.
In 2017, the NDP announced a budget of $26 million towards mental health for Alberta post-secondary institutions to help address these problems that students are facing.This came after concerns over stress, depression and suicide on Alberta’s college and university campuses, according to the Calgary Herald.
MRU received the funding in two phases. Phase one had to be spent between August 2017 and March 2019. The amount for the first phase was $465,000. The second phase is lower, roughly $280,000, which Mount Royal University will have to apply for prior to Dec. 31, 2018.
It’s clear that Canadian students are feeling stress, pressure and dealing with mental health in some form or another.
Kandi McElary, Director of Wellness Services at MRU, says that she is happy with the funding. She says the funding has helped put things in motion from feedback they are getting from students and faculty. The new funding is helping further programs to educate and promote healthy lifestyles for students and healthy mental health.
McElary says that one of the main areas that funding was needed for was “education prevention and skill building.” The first phase of funding did see the hiring of four new part-time counsellors, but also a lot more invested in education and building and designing multiple programs for students.
A large part of the process is to help students prior to having to visit Wellness Services. “So much has happened in that student’s life to bring them to this place that, perhaps could have been prevented, [if] given coping skills and resiliency skills.”
“It’s good stress that helps to motivate your learning. But when that stress becomes not helpful, it becomes distress. Rather than use stress motivationally.” McElary says that it’s not only important to help students dealing with the bad stress at Wellness Services, but to try to give students education and tools to prevent or relieve stress before it gets worse.
She also says that the way the NDP shared the funds among universities is fair. “And so do I agree with the principles behind it? I do.”