National Standard of Canada: Mental health and well-being for post- secondary students


Students deserve to be mentally well. In bringing The National Standard of Canada for Mental-Health and Well-Being for Post-Secondary Students  to the U of A, we work to empower campus members to shape a healthy post-secondary community that fosters holistic and sustainable practices for mental health and well-being into all levels of our university structures.

National Standard

The National Standard — the first of its kind in the world — is a set of flexible, voluntary guidelines to help postsecondary institutions support the mental-health and well-being of their students.

The National Standard is an instrument to ignite further action, providing guidance which emphasizes a comprehensive broad and holistic approach to support students’ mental health and wellbeing by considering societal, community, and institutional factors that can impact a person’s mental health. With an understanding of these layers being fluid and felt in varying ways for each individual, the standard aims to promote broad health promoting factors from prevention, early intervention, service provision and crisis intervention based on existing and promising best practices.

Renewing our commitment to student mental health

The U of A offers a variety of accessible, high quality mental health supports and services that are available to all students and continually strives to strengthen and improve them. Guiding strategies that incorporate the holistic nature of well-being such as the Okanagan Charter and the Healthy University Strategic Plan have been important to these efforts. Yet we know that there have been major shifts coming through the COVID pandemic that have changed how we access and engage in mental health support. The National Standard will be used as a tool to help identify areas where further action can be taken, as well as engage in an ongoing process of continuous improvement and evaluation.

Launching the National Standard at the U of A

In launching our evaluation and recommendations stage, campus consultations will allow us to determine what the key priority outcomes are for each of our campuses. Areas of focus are:

  1. Raise awareness around mental health and decrease mental illness-related stigma
  2. Enhance levels of relational connection and sense of belonging within the learning community
  3. Increase access to student supports, on and off campus
  4. Promote life and resiliency skills students can use at school, work and daily life
  5. Provide healthier and safer institutional environments
  6. Improve opportunities for student success and flourishing

Consultations will employ a multi-phase approach over the 2023 winter semester with students, staff, faculty, and campus partners, with a goal for recommendations to be released for Fall 2023.

U of A National Standard for the Mental Health & Wellbeing of PSI Students Phase 2 Roadmap

: Key milestone

Oct 2023
2 Weeks

Equity Deserving Engagement

4 weeks

Consultation with Campus Partners

Oct - Nov 2023
8 weeks
  • Staff Engagement, What We Heard Report
  • MH Action Plan Drafting
Nov 2023
Equity Deserving Engagement Report, Advisory group review, Action Plan draft
Nov-Dec 2023
4 weeks

MH Action Plan Finalization

Jan 2024
4 weeks
  • MH Action Plan Release
  • Student Experience Action Plan Release
  • National Action Tracker Implementation
Jan - Mar 2024
12 weeks
  • Campus Policy Audit
  • Key Performance Indicator Development
Mar 2024
4 weeks

Psychologically Safe Workplace Mapping

Apr 2024
4 weeks

Annual Report to Community

Involving faculty and staff

While the standard's focus is on students, we recognize that our staff and faculty’s mental health and well-being are just as integral to support. The Culture of Care Strategy was released December 2022 and is the University of Alberta's three-year safety action plan to embed health and safety as a core value within the university community. Safety involves not only the physical environment, but also cultural and psychological well-being, which are equally critical aspects of feeling safe in the workplace. Employee’s are also supported through the Employee and Family Assistance Program

The National Standard recognizes that it is a shared responsibility to support student mental health and well-being. Postsecondary institutions cannot meet this growing challenge alone. An approach to supporting student mental health and well-being that encompasses all students, faculty and staff within the post secondary community, in addition to all stakeholders in the broader community, is vital.