College professors are on the front lines of what has been called a campus mental health crisis in Canada. Professors need mental health first-aid training in order to help their students.
Colleges need to mandate mental health training for faculty.
According to Statistics Canada, young people aged 15 to 24 are more likely to experience mental illness than any other age group. A Colleges Ontario overview reveals the average college student is 23 years of age.
According to the Council of Ontario Universities, 75 per cent of mental health disorders first appear among people aged 18 to 24.
If the average college student is 23, young people aged 15 to 24 are prone to mental illnesses. Consider the fact that 75 per cent of mental health disorders first appear among people aged 18 to 24. College students are at a greater risk to mental health emergencies.
A National College Health Assessment survey of post-secondary students reported that last year 46 per cent of students reported feeling so depressed it was difficult to function; 65 per cent of students reported overwhelming anxiety and 14 per cent of students had seriously considered suicide.
According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), 4,000 Canadians die a year to suicide. That equals roughly eleven people per day. After accidents, suicide is the second leading cause of death for people aged 15-24.
If suicide is this prominent among the campus population, professors should be required to get Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training. This would help professors recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illnesses, before it’s too late.
Much like physical first aid is provided until medical treatment can be obtained, MHFA is available until appropriate support is found or the crisis is fixed.
The three main steps to MHFA are to recognize the change in behaviour, respond with a conversation and then guide the person to the appropriate resources.
The outcomes of MHFA, according to its Canadian website, are the increase of awareness, increase of confidence and decrease of stigma.
This is why it is necessary for colleges to mandate mental health training for on-campus faculty. It is necessary for students to have someone who recognizes the symptoms of a mental health crisis before it escalates.
The goal is to engage confidently where a person may be a danger to themselves or others. This way, help will be provided to prevent the mental health problem from developing into a more serious state. Therefore promoting the recovery of good mental health and providing comfort to a person experiencing a mental health problem.
This would help stop potential suicides by diagnosing the mental health concerns beforehand and create dialogue around a stigmatized topic.
In 2016, Ontario University and College Health Association (OUCHA) published the results from a survey of more than 25,000 students.
The survey found in the previous year, 65 per cent of students experienced overwhelming anxiety, 46 per cent reported feeling so depressed they couldn’t function and 13 per cent had seriously considered suicide in the previous year.
College professors are on the front lines of what has been called a campus mental health crisis in Canada. Professors need mental first-aid training in order to help their students.
Action needs to be taken. Providing training to those on the front lines will help stop an epidemic that is killing students.