U of C mental health summit aims for provincial strategy
Organizer of 2nd-annual Calgary conference says attitudes about student mental health issues have changed
University student leaders and experts from across Alberta are meeting in Calgary today to map out a provincial post-secondary mental health strategy.
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Participants at the second annual Wellness Summit at the University of Calgary, which also took place Monday, are talking about how to make sure students get help when they need it.
"Student health and well-being is essential to academic success, and the majority of University of Calgary students experience feelings of being overwhelmed, exhausted or stressed," said Debbie Bruckner, director of the Students’ Union Wellness Centre at the U of C.
Last year’s National College Health Assessment (NCHA) — which collected data on students’ perceptions on common health topics — found that most University of Calgary students identified stress as the number one factor affecting academic performance.
Bruckner said attitudes about student mental health have evolved.
"For years, you know, it was just deal with it, this is the real world. And the cracks started showing up," she said.
Erik Queenan, president of the Students' Association of Mount Royal University, said there’s still work to be done to eliminate the lingering stigma around mental illness.
"The number one thing that I really want to focus on now is just building more awareness in the community among the student campuses so that people are aware and will be more willing to go get help,” he said.
“And maybe if they see some of their friends that might be experiencing mental illness, will be able to reach out to them."