An Overview of Post-Secondary Mental Health on Campuses in Ontario: Challenges and Successes

  • Pearlyn Ng
  • Marija Padjen
Original Article


With the growing number of initiatives on campus that support student well-being, an overview of some of the systemic, sector-wide issues on campuses will help to further understanding of post-secondary student mental health needs and support improved outcomes for mental health on campus. This paper will examine systemic issues in the post-secondary mental health sector, including the challenges of maintaining best practices; review how the Mental Health Innovation Fund projects and project outcomes worked toward addressing those challenges; and highlight standards in post-secondary mental health program evaluation.


Ontario Post-secondary College University Mental health Campus 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of Interest

Authors Pearlyn Ng and Marija Padjen are affiliated with The Centre for Innovation in Campus Mental Health, which is funded by the Ministry of Colleges, Training and Universities.


  1. ACHA. (2010). Considerations for integration of Counselling and health services on college and university campuses. Retrieved from:
  2. ACHA National College Health Assessment II. (2016). Canadian reference group: executive summary. Retrieved from:
  3. Brunner, J. L., Wallace, D. L., Reymann, L. S., Sellers, J. J., & McCabe, A. G. (2014). College counselling today: contemporary students and how counselling centres meet their needs. Journal of College Student Psychotherapy, 28(4), 257–324. Scholar
  4. CACUSS & CMHA. (2013). Post-secondary student mental health: guide to a systemic approach. Retrieved from:
  5. Canadian Bureau for International Education. (2016). A world of learning: Canada’s performance and potential in international education 2016. Retrieved from:
  6. Collins, P. Y., Patel, V., Joestl, S. S., March, D., Insel, T. R., Daar, A. S., Bordin, I. A., Costello, E. J., Durkin, M., Fairburn, C., & Glass, R. I. (2011). Grand challenges in global mental health. Nature, 475(7354), 27–30 Retrieved from: Scholar
  7. Cooke, M., & Huntley, J. (2015). White paper on postsecondary student. Mental Health Retrieved from:
  8. Counseline [Brochure]. (2014). Toronto, PN: University of Toronto. Retrieved from:
  9. Hadlaczky, G., Hökby, S., Mkrtchian, A., Carli, V., & Wasserman, D. (2014). Mental health first aid is an effective public health intervention for improving knowledge, attitudes, and behaviour: A meta-analysis. International Review of Psychiatry, 26(4), 467–475. Scholar
  10. Hunt, J., & Eisenberg, D. (2010). Mental health problems and help-seeking behavior among college students. Journal of Adolescent Health, 46(1), 3–10. Scholar
  11. Jaworska, N., De Somma, E., Fonseka, B., Heck, E., & MacQueen, G. M. (2016). Mental health services for students at post-secondary institutions: A national survey. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 61(12), 766–775. Scholar
  12. Kirsch, D. J., Pinder-Amaker, S. L., Morse, C., Ellison, M. L., Doerfler, L. A., & Riba, M. B. (2014). Population-based initiatives in college mental health: Students helping students to overcome obstacles. Current Psychiatry Reports, 16(12), 525. Scholar
  13. LeMoult, J., Castonguay, L. G., Joormann, J., & McAleavey, A. (2013). Depression. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  14. Locke, B., Wallace, D., & Brunner, J. (2016). Emerging issues and models in college mental health services. New Directions for Student Services, 2016(156), 19–30. Scholar
  15. MacKean, G. (2011). Mental health and well-being in post-secondary education settings: A literature and environmental scan to support planning and action in Canada. Retrieved from:
  16. Morrill, W. H., Oetting, E. R., & Hurst, J. C. (1974). Dimensions of counsellor functioning. Journal of Counselling & Development, 52(6), 354–359.Google Scholar
  17. Mowbray, C. T., Megivern, D., Mandiberg, J. M., Strauss, S., Stein, C. H., Collins, K., Kopels, S., Curlin, C., & Lett, R. (2006). Campus mental health services: Recommendations for change. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 76(2), 226.–237.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Newcomer, K. E., Hatry, H. P., & Wholey, J. S. (Eds.). (2015). Handbook of practical program evaluation (3rd ed.). San Fransisco, CA: Wiley.Google Scholar
  19. OCHA. (2009). Towards a comprehensive mental health strategy: The crucial role of colleges and universities as partners. Retrieved from:
  20. Okanagan Charter. (2015). Okanagan charter: An international charter for health promoting universities and colleges. Retrieved from:
  21. Olding, M., & Yip, A. (2014). Policy approaches to post-secondary student mental health: A scan of current practice. Retrieved from:
  22. Posavac, E. J. (2015). Program evaluation: Methods and case studies (8th ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  23. Prieto-Welch, S. L. (2016). International student mental health. New Directions for Student Services, 2016(156), 53–63. Scholar
  24. Principal’s Commission on Mental Health (2012). Student mental health and wellness: framework and recommendations for a comprehensive strategy. Retrieved from:
  25. Salzer, M. S., Wick, L. C., & Rogers, J. A. (2008). Familiarity with and use of accommodations and supports among post-secondary students with mental illnesses. Psychiatric Services, 59(4), 370–375. Scholar
  26. Storrie, K., Ahern, K., & Tuckett, A. (2010). A systematic review: Students with mental health problems—A growing problem. International Journal of Nursing Practice, 16(1), 1–6. Scholar
  27. Tampke, D. R. (2013). Developing, implementing, and assessing an early alert system. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, 14(4), 523–532. Scholar
  28. Thorley, C. (2017). Not by degrees: Improving student mental health in the UK’s universities. Retrieved from:

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario DivisionCentre for Innovation in Campus Mental HealthTorontoCanada
  2. 2.TorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations