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Queen's University

Commission for Mental Health

  • Terms of Reference

Terms of Reference

September 2011

The Issue

In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the importance of student mental health issues on university campuses.

Queen’s, like many other universities, has seen a significant increase in demand for mental health and wellness services, as well as an increase in the complexity of mental health cases presenting at counselling offices.

Mental health issues and access to service have serious implications for students and their families as well as the entire campus community. Student organizations, individual students, parents, faculty and staff are very engaged in this issue and in seeking to understand how Queen's can best promote the mental health of its students and respond to the demand for service.

A number of reports on mental health have emerged this year, particularly in the last few months.[1] Many of these present insights into the factors affecting university-age individuals in the 18-24 age range.

Some common themes emerge in these documents:

  • First, while many more students are coming forward seeking support for mental health challenges, there are still a significant number who do not reach out;
  • Second, the data necessary to assess the needs of students in this age range is insufficient, meaning that there is not a fully developed evidence-based approach to mental health services; and
  • Third, the promotion of mental health depends upon developing a comprehensive mental-health strategy based on targeting multiple levels of intervention and taking a systemic approach to student mental health.

The Commission

With these elements in mind, the Principal has established a Commission on Mental Health at Queen's and charged it to:

  1. Consider national and international trends in mental health issues among post-secondary aged students;
  2. Explore best practices for addressing mental health issues on university campuses;
  3. Examine how the mental health needs of students are currently being addressed at Queen's; and
  4. Make recommendations to the Principal on the establishment of a mental health strategy that will address:
    • How Queen's can promote a healthy, inclusive and supportive environment;
    • How Queen's can promote mental health awareness on campus and provide the required level of support for students facing mental health challenges;
    • How Queen's can support a campus environment that reduces the risk of harm associated with mental health issues; and
    • 'What resources are required to support the mental health strategy.

The Principles Guiding the Commission

In carrying out its work, the commission will be guided by the following principles: 

  • Queen's supports student success and understands that student wellness and student mental health are necessary conditions for student academic success;
  • Queen's is committed to an environment that supports students facing mental health challenges and understands that supporting students requires a community response;
  • The University recognizes that student mental health affects individual students and the entire Queen's community and the commission will ensure wide consultation to draw on a diversity of perspectives;
  • A Queen's mental health strategy must be integrated, responsive to identified needs, address the diversity of the student population, and have clear implementation goals and reporting mechanisms.

[1] Especially relevant to discussions of mental health at Queen's is “Mental Health and Well-being in Post-Secondary Education Settings: A Literature and Environmental Scan to Support Planning and Action in Canada” (PDF 1.5 MB)

Note: in drafting these terms, the Student Mental Health Committee Final report from the University of California and the Commission to the Cornell Council on Mental Health and Welfare were most helpful.

Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000