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UW spending over $1M on mental health counsellors, hosts forum Wednesday

Last Updated Mar 14, 2018 at 2:10 pm EDT

Two weeks after this year’s first on-campus student suicide at the University of Waterloo, the university has released its report on student mental health.

Along with the 36 recommendations, the school is committing $1.2 million in funding for mental health care workers.

It means the number of counsellors will be increased to 37. That works out to one mental health professional for every 1,000 students.

Nick Manning, the Associate Vice-President of Communications at U-W tells The Mike Farwell Show the funding is just the beginning.

“(The report) may not be quite as easy to implement as hiring some additional staff to support students in counselling,” he said, “But they’ll really start to get at some of the underlying causes of what causes stress and mental health issues on campus.”

The report also found the university has to do a better job in training faculty and staff to understand mental health issues, allowing them to help students in the best way possible.

Manning adds it’s important to address the issue, especially in this day and age.

“I think when we look out into the world, we’re seeing a totally different landscape now for young people…mental health challenges start at a very young age,” he said, “The amount of anxiety that people are seeing in children nowadays, that they’re seeing in young adults nowadays is only growing.”

“This is not a challenge unique to the University of Waterloo. That we recognize that perhaps our role in addressing this challenge is shifting and we need to do something differently.”

Manning says it’s a societal problem recognized around the world, noting there are pressures in a post-secondary environment such as U-W.

“The benefit of having a campus that is founded on excellence and innovation, it means that we’re well-positioned to respond.”

He says having an international leader in mental health research like John Hirdes — who will lead the report implementation team — is a great oppportunity for them to fall back on their strengths and “navigate the response to the current challenge.”

The school is also hosting a forum on the subject at Fed Hall Wednesday afternoon at 2:00 p.m.

Read the full report here.