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Maritime post-secondary students calling for government funding

UPEI Student Union.
UPEI Student Union.

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Student organizations in P.E.I., New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are calling on their respective governments to fund innovative mental health intervention programs for post-secondary students.

In August, the New Brunswick Student Alliance (NBSA) and Students Nova Scotia released a national joint publication on the state of mental health along with partners in Ontario and Alberta.

The report highlighted the unmet needs of post-secondary students in regard to mental health support services on campus.

Taya Nabuurs, UPEI student union’s vice-president academic and external, said the union conducted a survey in the spring and noted that mental health was one of the top concerns of UPEI students.

“The UPEI Student Union has been advocating this year for provincial funding to support mental health,’’ Nabuurs said. “Designating a portion of this funding to technological advancements in mental health services in a combined approach with other Atlantic provinces would prove an extremely positive step forward.’’

All three organizations are seeking a combined $700,000 from their respective governments for a suite of technology-based solutions, already endorsed by the 16 public universities in Atlantic Canada.

The suite of programs would improve four different areas known to impact student mental health outcomes – mental health literacy, peer support, professional counselling and service delivery using e-mental health technologies.

The suite includes online peer support and professional telephone counselling 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The utility and efficacy of these programs are evidence-based, and the three organizations expect that they will be transformative to the mental health landscape for post-secondary students.

“A co-ordinated Atlantic strategy for student mental health will be a crucial step forward for all Maritime universities,’’ Nabuurs said.

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