STUSU Donates $300,000 to Capital Campaign for Increased Mental Health Services and Programming
The St. Thomas University Students’ Union has made a $300,000 donation to the Campaign for St. Thomas to help enhance the university’s mental health services and programming.
The donation is the result of a referendum held last spring when students voted almost 72% in favour of raising student fees to help address a growing need for more mental health support on campus.
STU Students’ Union president Brianna Workman says student mental health is one of the most prominent issues for students on campuses across the country.
“This donation comes at a time where discussion around mental health has been high. However, we at the Students’ Union have seen and heard from students that they need much more than conversation — they need action. Because of this, we see so many instances of students channeling their energy and passion for this issue into tangible action to help support those struggling.”
Student-athlete Taylor Cook has struggled with depression and was recently diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. She says counselling services at STU have helped her learn to cope. Now, she speaks publicly about her challenges related to mental health on her blog The Mental Game in order to help others.
She says this donation is wonderful news for the campus community.
“This donation is going to help not just myself but other students that need it. The fact the student body stepped forward and said 'we need help' is a huge step forward.”
STU President and Vice-Chancellor Dawn Russell says the university has already made important progress by building on the foundation it already had in place on campus.
“We have developed student programming that focuses on social connections, wellness, and mental health education. For students with coping concerns, we help them develop self-management skills, help-seeking behaviours, and we have programs to encourage early identification and referrals. For students in crisis, we have counselling and mental health services, emergency response protocols, and we work closely with hospital, community, and family supports.”
Starting this year, the university has also put in place a new formal partnership with students to help address these issues.
“Over the past year, we have established a Mental Health Working Group with a formal Action Plan being monitored by faculty, staff, and students. The Working Group is improving the programs we have in place and launching new initiatives. We are now collecting baseline data which is important for tracking the needs of students and the success of our activities. We have opened a Mental Health Resource Centre and Peer Resource Centre in JDH. And we are delivering mental health training for students, faculty, and staff," Russell says.
"We have come some distance, but there is a longer journey to undertake. With this support from students, it is a journey we can take together."