OTTAWA, January 30, 2019 – Students across the country are kicking off the Canadian Alliance of Students Associations’ (CASA) #StudentsLetsAct campaign today, underlining the urgent need for action on student mental health. At a time where attention to and discussion around mental health is high, students want to channel this energy into tangible action to help support those struggling.
“We love that there’s been so much discussion and sharing going on around mental health over the past few years, but we want to take things one step further,” says Emma Walsh, CASA Advocacy Director and St. Thomas University Students’ Union VP Education. “A lot of students need help, and we’re now standing up and demanding it, loudly.”
Post-secondary students are at a stage in their life when the pressure to do well academically is high, when they often have new responsibilities, and when they may not have the same support network around, making them particularly vulnerable to mental health issues. Additionally, the age at which most people attend post-secondary coincides with a common age of onset for mental illness. Without the right, accessible supports in place, not only is the student’s academic performance at risk, but also the individual’s safety and wellbeing.
CASA thinks the federal government can play an important role in helping students struggling with debilitating mental health issues. For instance, CASA wants to see the government expand the Canada Student Grant for Students with Permanent Disabilities to also support those with temporary conditions, given the episodic nature of many mental health issues. Students also think this grant should be increased by 50%, as the other Canada Student Grants were in Budget 2016. Providing more federal funding targeted at mental health initiatives and supports on Canadian campuses would also help immensely, seeing as most campus services are severely overburdened and underfunded. The federal government is also well-placed to take the lead on collecting data on student mental health, which informs practices and policies all over the country.
Emma continues: “The simple, yet high impact measures proposed by CASA have the potential to greatly assist the hundreds of thousands of students across Canada who struggle with mental health issues. That’s why we’re running this campaign – because government action on student mental health is critical.”
Established in 1995, the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) is a non-partisan, not-for-profit, national student organization composed of 23 student associations representing 280,000 post-secondary students from coast to coast. Through its partnership with the Quebec Student Union (QSU) and its 8 members representing 79,000 students, CASA presents a national student voice to the federal government. CASA advocates for a Canadian post-secondary education system that is accessible, affordable, innovative, and of the highest quality.
Lindsay Boyd, Communications and Public Relations Officer