Bell Let’s Talk announces increased funding for post-secondary student mental health action plans

Montréal, Thursday, April 15, 2021

• More than $3 million in initial grants awarded to 123 post-secondary institutions planning to implement the National Standard of Canada for Mental Health and Well-Being for Post-Secondary Students
• Total funding increased from original $2.5 million commitment to meet high demand
• Further Bell Let’s Talk funding in June will support new initiatives aligned with the Standard developed by the schools

MONTRÉAL, April 15, 2021 – Bell Let’s Talk today announced that $3,075,000 in grants from the Bell Let’s Talk Post-Secondary Fund have been awarded to 123 Canadian colleges and universities to support them in the initial implementation of the National Standard of Canada for Mental Health and Well-Being for Post-Secondary Students.

“Bell is committed to supporting student mental health and we were pleased to see so many post-secondary institutions apply for funding – such a great response in fact that we increased total funding for the initiative by almost 25% to more than $3 million,” said Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let’s Talk. “These grants will help colleges and universities across the country accelerate the important work they’re doing to support student mental health and well-being. We look forward to building on their progress with more funding later this spring for schools implementing new initiatives aligned with the Standard.”

In June, Bell Let’s Talk will launch a second phase of the Post-Secondary Fund with implementation grants for institutions that have used the Standard to identify specific gaps or needs in their mental health support services and are building new initiatives to address them.

The National Standard of Canada for Mental Health and Well-Being for Post-Secondary Students provides a set of guidelines to help increase awareness, reduce stigma, improve life and resiliency skills, and create a healthier and safer educational environment overall. Bell Let’s Talk funding helped enable the creation of the Standard, led by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) in partnership with the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).

According to the 2019 National College Health Assessment, about 16% of students have seriously considered suicide, and almost 3% attempted suicide in the past year. And over the past year, COVID-19 has affected the mental health of students at every post-secondary institution in Canada.

“If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that taking care of our mental health is essential. That’s especially true for students, who, even in the best of times, find themselves at a critical point in their lives, making tough decisions that will shape the rest of their careers, often in the face of uncertain outcomes,” said Denise Amyot, President and CEO, Colleges and Institutes Canada. “That is why the National Standard of Canada for Mental Health and Well-Being for Post-Secondary Students is so important. It is a valuable resource for colleges and institutes as they strive to promote mental health and support their students as best they can.”

Schools like the University of Calgary are actively engaging students as they implement the Standard. “During my time at the University of Calgary, it has been evident that students are at the core of the University’s approach to supporting student mental health. As a student, I have personally experienced how their approach and engagement with the student population has led to multiple initiatives, making mental health an integral and essential component of students’ well-being,” said Cassandra Chisholm, a University of Calgary student. “Through my own involvement with the University of Calgary’s Student Medical Response team, and as the student representative for the Post-Secondary Partnership – Alcohol Harms initiative, I have seen how student voices are always considered and incorporated into efforts and projects throughout the campus community. Ultimately, this student-centric process makes the campus community flourish. I consider myself fortunate to attend a University that believes in the importance of student mental health.”

The largest colleges in the Greater Toronto Area – Centennial, George Brown, Humber, Seneca and Sheridan – have formed a partnership that will allow the colleges to pool their expertise and resources to create learning environments where all students can thrive.

“Wellness and health promotion have long been prioritized across our institutions, and it’s a privilege to support more than 125,000 students every day,” said Dr. Janet Morrison, President and Vice Chancellor of Sheridan College. “However, we know that for many students the ability to learn and succeed is influenced by a complex web of pressures that take a toll on mental health. Our partnership, together with Bell’s support, will identify the programs that best help students succeed, work to make real improvements in mental health and wellness across all our campuses, and then share our work as a roadmap for success.”

In Québec, Bishop’s University, Cégep de Sherbrooke, Champlain College, Sherbrooke Seminary and University of Sherbrooke are also joining forces.

“Thanks to the support of the Bell Let’s Talk Post-Secondary Fund kickoff grant, our collaboration efforts will go further to help and better equip our community in matters of mental health,” said Marie-France Bélanger, Executive Director of Cégep de Sherbrooke. “We are proud to work together to implement best practices to promote the psychological health of more than 50,000 students and staff members.”

“We are delighted to receive a $25,000 grant from the Bell Let’s Talk Post-Secondary Fund to implement two exciting programs. Both programs were developed by our Student Mental Health Task Force, an inclusive and diverse group of faculty, staff, students and community leaders working to review student mental health and well-being,” said Paul J. Mazerolle, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of New Brunswick. “The first program will focus on enhancing our campus mental health service providers’ knowledge in the areas of truth, reconciliation, allyship and culturally responsive care. The second program will use multimedia approaches to empower our BIPOC students to share their voices to provide guidance to ensure mental health services are more accessible and effective.”

“The mental health and well-being of our students and employees is a top priority for Yukon University. The Bell Let’s Talk grant will enhance and accelerate the development and implementation of our comprehensive Mental Health and Wellness Strategy,” said Dr. Maggie Matear, Interim President and Vice Chancellor of Yukon University. “Based on the National Standard, our strategy will amplify the resources available to the YukonU community improving outreach and resilience for all. Bell’s continued commitment to engaging Canadians and taking action to create positive change in mental health is incredibly important and we are grateful for their support.”

To see a complete list of universities and colleges that received a $25,000 kickoff grant, please click here.

About Bell Let’s Talk
The largest-ever corporate commitment to mental health in Canada, Bell Let’s Talk is focused on 4 key action pillars: Anti-stigma, Care and Access, Research and Workplace Leadership. Since its launch in September 2010, Bell Let’s Talk has partnered with more than 1,100 organizations providing mental health supports and services throughout Canada, including hospitals, universities, local community service providers and other care and research organizations. To learn more, please visit Bell.ca/LetsTalk.

Media inquiries:
Katie Hatfield
902-487-6198
katie.hatfield@bellaliant.ca
@Bell_LetsTalk
@Bell_News