New Study Finds Post-Secondary Students Struggling To Manage Mental Health


Results from a new study examining student mental health and accessibility of on-campus services confirms the mental health challenges persisting across Canadian post-secondary campuses. The New Abnormal: Student Mental Health Two Years Into COVID-19 is a report commissioned by the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) in partnership with the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC).

Conducted by Abacus Data, the study concludes that despite 1 in 2 students having accessed mental health supports through their post-secondary institutions, significant barriers to accessing services remained, including wait times, stigma, and confidentiality concerns.

“Student mental health concerns have intensified over two years into the pandemic. With students set to return to in-person learning, supporting student mental health should be a top priority,” said Christian Fotang, CASA Chair.

The New Abnormal: Student Mental Health Two Years Into COVID-19 found that three-quarters of student respondents reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, on par with 2021 levels. The study also found that:

  • 1 in 3 students reported that mental health services at post-secondary institutions do not meet their diverse needs;
  • Top barriers to access included wait times, ignorance of how to access services, and quality of services, with 3 in 4 students unaware of how to access on-campus services;
  • The average student funds nearly half of their studies from both parental and personal savings, with only 15% of funding coming from student loans and grants.

In 2021, the federal government conveyed promising intentions in the mandate letters to the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions to introduce a new fund for student mental health, targeting areas such as wait times and increased staffing for mental health care. These efforts would meaningfully improve access to effective and representative mental health services now in 2022.

Ed Mantler, senior Vice-President of Programs and Priorities at Mental Health Commission of Canada, emphasizes involving students in such efforts: “As champions of the world’s first standard for post-secondary students’ mental health and well-being we call for opportunities for students to be meaningfully engaged in every step of the evolution towards healthier campus communities, as outlined in the standard’s guiding principles.”


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