Canadian post-secondary students report poor mental health

The majority of post-secondary students are still struggling with the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their mental health across Canada. A new report calls on the federal government to adopt policies to ensure the mental well-being of students.

Released on Monday by the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, an advocacy group representing 22 student associations nationwide, the report found that three-quarters of students said they had experienced negative mental health while in school over the past year. 2021-2022 school year.

The levels are on par with CASA’s research in 2021, and it « serves as an important reminder » that despite studying and working two years into the pandemic and government investment, « students still feel left behind, » the report said.

The study, titled « The New Abnormal: Student Mental Health Two Years Into COVID-19 », found that more than a quarter of students said their mental health was poor.

Backed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, the report surveyed 2,000 post-secondary students between May 13 and May 27 and has a margin of error of 3.1%.

Jan Abou Issa was frustrated to see his big dreams of college life shattered as the pandemic raged last year, and forced him to start his first term online.

« I was studying on my own, with no opportunity to socialize or ask my colleague for help, » said Abu Issa, 19, who is studying medical science at the University of Waterloo in Kitchener.

« Now I meet people, we chat and review our lessons, I feel less pressure, » he said.

But Abou Issa remains engulfed in anxiety and uncertainty, and fears the pandemic could strike again. « So if the restrictions were reinstated, we would live for worse days. »

As life began to return to a pre-pandemic scene in many ways, the pandemic « continued to negatively impact the mental health, finances, accessibility, and learning experiences » of students, according to the report.

Poor sleep habits were the highest negative factor in mental health; 42 percent of the sample reported them. They were followed by cost of living and school workload at 38%. Financial responsibilities came next, at 37%.

According to the report, younger students, low-income students, students identifying as 2SLGBTQ+, and those living with a pre-existing mental health condition were most at risk.

The survey noted Alberta, where 71% of respondents said mental health services at their post-secondary institutions lacked quality.

Nationally, half of students have sought mental health support. In-person and virtual counseling services were the most popular form. Other services included peer group support and self-directed programs.

Although students were aware of support services, wait times, privacy issues and stigma had the biggest impact when they decided to access services, executive director Mackenzy Metcalfe told The Star. from CASA.

« Coast to coast, students are telling us they need more mental health support, and ‘The New Abnormal’ provides data to back up those…experiences, » she added.

The report found that “there is an urgent need to develop and sustain effective mental health supports on campus, now more than ever.”

Investing in student mental health and well-being « is not only an effective way to reduce the $50 billion annual economic burden of mental illness in Canada, but is also essential to advancing Canada’s vision as a innovative, affordable and equitable leader in postgraduate education. – secondary education,” he concluded.


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