Everyone agrees on the need for an action plan on student mental health, but there are still concerns.
After holding consultations with 140 people in January 2021, the government of Quebec has released its action plan for student mental health in higher education. However, the Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ), which represents the Fédération de la recherche et de l’enseignement universitaire du Québec, and the Union étudiante du Québec (UÉQ) have expressed reservations about the scope of this initiative.
Introduced on Sept. 2 by Danielle McCann, Quebec’s minister of higher education, the plan aims to deploy more resources and create programs and tools for mental health starting this fall.
The plan is divided into four major focus areas and includes 20 different actions. It comes with a budget of $60 million over five years. This investment will be shared between Quebec college and university systems.
Ultimately, the government hopes that the implementation of this plan will lead to a cultural shift around mental health throughout the province, ensure welcoming campuses that allow students to “flourish in safe, healthy environments that promote positive mental health,” prevent psychological distress and mental health disorders by supporting the student population, and make mental health services more accessible to students.
“It’s important to note that our action plan is not only a response to the current public health crisis,” Ms. McCann said. “In the future, this plan will enable us to support all the institutions in the college and university systems and ensure that they have the tools they need to address the mental health disorders faced by students.”
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While the UÉQ welcomes the investments announced by the ministry of higher education and believes that the action plan as a whole “reflects the demands of the student community for mental health support at Quebec’s universities,” it also has certain misgivings about the plan.
“In particular, our concerns relate to whether these funds will be adequate for institutions to implement the proposed actions,” said UÉQ president Samuel Poitras in an email to University Affairs. “Certain universities, and especially smaller institutions, could use up their funds just by hiring the project managers needed …….