Mental Health Services for Students at Postsecondary Institutions: A National Survey
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OBJECTIVE: Although the high prevalence of mental health issues among postsecondary students is well documented, comparatively little is known about the adequacy, accessibility, and adherence to best practices of mental health services (MHSs)/initiatives on postsecondary campuses. We evaluated existing mental health promotion, identification, and intervention initiatives at postsecondary institutions across Canada, expanding on our previous work in one Canadian province. METHODS: A 54-question online survey was sent to potential respondents (mainly front-line workers dealing directly with students [e.g., psychologists/counsellors, medical professionals]) at Canada's publicly funded postsecondary institutions. Data were analyzed overall and according to institutional size (small [<2000 students], medium [2000-10 000 students], large [>10 000 students]). RESULTS: In total, 168 out of 180 institutions were represented, and the response rate was high (96%; 274 respondents). Most institutions have some form of mental health promotion and outreach programs, although most respondents felt that these were not a good use of resources. Various social supports exist at most institutions, with large ones offering the greatest variety. Most institutions do not require incoming students to disclose mental health issues. While counselling services are typically available, staff do not reliably have a diverse complement (e.g., gender or race diversity). Counselling sessions are generally limited, and follow-up procedures are uncommon. Complete diagnostic assessments and the use of standardized diagnostic systems are rare. CONCLUSIONS: While integral MHSs are offered at most Canadian postsecondary institutions, the range and depth of available services are variable. These data can guide policy makers and stakeholders in developing comprehensive campus mental health strategies.
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