Alberta commits $7.5M to improving mental health resources at Calgary colleges and universities

Calgary universities and colleges are getting nearly $2.5 million from the province each year for three years to strengthen mental health supports and students are already calling for clarity on how the money will be spent.

The University of Calgary will receive a $1-million cash injection each year, with the rest being divided between seven other Calgary schools, including Mount Royal University and the Alberta College of Art and Design.

The president of the University of Calgary said Friday the money will create a “community of caring” on campus.

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“When our students feel supported by a strong network, they are empowered to strive for their goals with focus and clarity,” a statement from university president Elizabeth Cannon read.

“University and college students, who tend to range in age from 18 to 24, are particularly susceptible to mental health concerns,” said president of the University of Calgary Students’ Union.

The VP of student life at the University of Calgary, Hilary Jahelka, said the student union is eager to work with the province and university administration to ensure funding is used “in the highest impact way possible.”

The University of Alberta Students’ Union and Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS) , however,  are calling for more information on how the money will be allocated.

“CAUS and students are anxiously awaiting more information on how the government and institutions plan to transition services into the community,” VP external of the Alberta Students’ Union and Chair of CAUS Reed Larsen said. “And we expect that there will be adequate community funding for students when that happens.”

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In June 2017, the province said it would integrate on-campus mental health supports with “larger regional systems.”

Friday’s funding announcement is part of a $25.8-million government investment over a three-year period.

In 2016, a National College Health Assessment Survey conducted at 10 post-secondary schools across Alberta found “a high incidence of anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts” on campuses.

The province said it hopes to address this problem through the funding.

“Mental health challenges have a significant impact on far too many students,” Advanced Education Minister Marlin Scmidt said in a statement Friday.

Mount Royal University president David Docherty said the cash will allow his school to expand on mental health initiatives it has been putting in place over the last three years.

Here’s a closer look at how each school will benefit from the mental health funding:

  • Bow Valley College – $310,000
  • University of Calgary – $1 million
  • Mount Royal University – $280,000
  • Southern Alberta Institute of Technology – $475,000
  • Ambrose University – $75,000
  • St. Mary’s University – $75,000
  • Alberta College of Art and Design – $105,000
  • The Banff Centre – $165,000

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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