The BC Government will invest significantly in the mental state of mind of its post-secondary students. They have contracted private firm Morneau Shepell to create and operate a 24/7 mental health counselling and referral services for post-secondary students at all public and private post-secondary institutions in B.C. The company will provide on-demand, immediate counselling and referral support to almost half a million students in B.C.’s public and private post-secondary institutions.
“Mental health is an issue our government takes seriously,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “Post-secondary students have told me there is a gap in mental health support services. The stress students feel at university or college can be significant, and can lead to serious isolation and potentially deadly outcomes. I am proud our government is responding to this call to action by creating a place for students to reach out for help 24/7.”
This mental health service will mean for the first time in B.C., every student – whether rural, urban, domestic, international, public, private, full-time or part-time – will have access to 24/7 services to supplement services on campus and in the community. As this provincewide program is a new service, the ministry will take the time to engage with students and post-secondary institutions on the design of the service before launch in spring 2020.
“Many students don’t come forward and ask for the help they need because of the stigma that still surrounds mental health issues,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “This service will meet young people where they are at and provide them immediate access to someone to talk to, without shame or judgement.”
Morneau Shepell administers the largest clinical network in Canada. It has delivered mental health solutions since 1974 and services more than 20,000 organizations worldwide. Morneau Shepell supports more than 3,800 clients across all services in B.C. and more than 200 post-secondary institutions across North America, directly and via partnerships, through its student support programs.
The three-year contract has a budget of $1.5 million per year.
Improving mental health in schools is an integral part of government’s actions outlined in A Pathway to Hope, B.C.’s roadmap for making the system of mental health and addictions care better for people no matter where they live in the province.
Implementing A Pathway to Hope is a shared priority with the BC Green Party caucus and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.