About the Strategy

The University of Calgary’s need to take action and make mental health and wellbeing a campus-wide priority became apparent when we learned of the challenges and experiences of our students’ in the 2013 National College Assessment Survey. The results were eye-opening and a major driver of the development of the Campus Mental Health Strategy. Our faculty and staff are no exception - data from the Employee and Family Assistance Program and Staff Wellness highlight that mental health is an important issue for them as well.

The 2016 NCHA results, as well as updated data from the Employee and Family Assistance Program and Staff Wellness, have shown that there is still work to be done in creating a community of caring at the university.

Statistics at a glance

The following statistics informed the creation of the strategy.


Approximately 1 in 5 people experience a mental illness in a given year, and almost everyone is affected by mental illness in a family member, friend or colleague.

Source: American College Health Association. (2013).


A majority of our students expressed feeling overwhelmed (90%), lonely (64%), very anxious (58%), or very sad (67%) at some point in the year prior to completing the survey.

Source: 2016 National College Health Assessment (NCHA)

Faculty and Staff

Mental health was the #1 reason UCalgary employees accessed the Employee and Family Assistance Program in 2014. 16% of employee sick leave cases and 33% of employee long-term disability cases result from mental illness. Leaves arising from mental illness are on average 60% longer in duration than other types of sick leaves.

Source: Homewood Health & UCalgary Staff Wellness


Strategic Focus Areas

The following six strategic focus areas guide the implementation and evaluation of the Campus Mental Health Strategy.

Wellness initiatives enhance understanding and change perceptions of mental health problems. They are critical to reducing stigma and promoting early help-seeking. Promoting well-being increases skills and knowledge for practicing self-care and healthy behaviours.


The following are recommendations to pursue as part of Campus Mental Health Strategy initiatives.

  1. Expand what we offer

    1.1 Mental health literacy programs should be expanded to include diverse, vulnerable, and at-risk populations.

    1.2 Anti-stigma initiatives, including contact-based and online anti-stigma programs should be expanded, utilizing internal and externally developed resources, such as peer support resources.

  2. Expand what we do

    1.3 Develop a robust evaluation strategy to measure the long-term impact and sustainability of the collective mental health and well-being initiatives.

  3. Develop new initiatives for the campus community

    1.4 Create a strategy to promote responsible alcohol use, accessing the experience of internal and external community.

    1.5 Develop a centralized website to provide efficient and effective access to mental health information for students, faculty, and staff. Incorporate on-campus champions in programming, planning and marketing initiatives.

Self-management competencies and coping skills strengthen student, faculty, and staff resilience and their ability to manage the multiple demands in their lives.

  1. Expand what we offer

    2.1 Increase availability of programming and training for students, faculty, and staff to build personal resilience and wellness and to promote academic and professional success.

    2.2 Expand available resources and programming for parents/families of students.

    2.3 Increase engagement in a full range of holistic health promoting activities.

  2. Enhance what we do

    2.4 Enhance support during critical transition times for all members of the campus community.

  3. Develop new initiatives for the campus community

    2.5 Develop a for-credit resiliency and wellness course.

It is important that community members recognize and respond to early signs of distress. Those who interact with students, faculty, and staff in the course of their day are in the best position to notice early indications of concern

  1. Expand what we offer

    3.1 Increase educational programming to enable students, faculty, and staff to identify signs of mental distress in both self and others. Ensure programming and on-line resources are easily accessible to families.

  2. Enhance what we do

    3.2 Support the implementation and expansion of an early alert program for students who are academically at risk.

    3.3 Enhance and promote a student case management strategy to ensure needs of individuals are being met and concerns are monitored. Develop new initiatives for the campus community.

  3. Develop new initiatives for the campus community

    3.4 Establish supportive response mechanisms to check-in with students, faculty, or staff in cases of concern or unreported absences.

    3.5 Adopt and promote web-based self-screening programs for students, staff and faculty.

Mental health services support student, faculty, and staff through the full range of mental health issues and the recovery process, as well as provide specialized programs to meet the needs of specific population.

  1. Expand what we offer

    4.1 Work with external partner organizations to expand support in faculties, alternate locations, and through various modalities and hours of services including the provision of 24-hour access to mental health resources on campus and within the community.

    4.2 Strengthen targeted mental health supports for vulnerable populations or at risk sub-groups, considering specific mental health issues at key transition point.

  2. Enhance what we do

    4.3 Optimize referral protocols in counselling and case management systems.

    4.4 Enhance training in crisis management for managers and campus leaders.

  3. Develop new initiatives for the campus community

    4.5 Develop inter-cultural competence in mental health promotion and in service delivery, working with internal and external partners.

The structure of a post-secondary institution and its strategic goals, policies, and practices influence student, faculty, and staff mental health.

  1. Expand what we offer

    5.1 Promote integrated response options and supportive change management processes including expanded consultation and feedback mechanisms for new processes.

  2. Enhance what we do

    5.2 Promote broad-based training and provide guidance on compliance with policy and legislative requirements.

  3. Develop new initiatives for the campus community

    5.3 Develop a process to ensure that relevant campus policies and processes are supportive of mental health.

    5.4 Create a committee responsible for implementation of the Campus Mental Health Strategy, and report outcomes at least annually.

A supportive and collaborative campus enhances engagement and positively impacts academic success, staff and faculty performance, and overall satisfaction. Both literature reviews highlighted the importance of creating physical spaces that promote positive interactions between faculty, staff and students; create a positive sense of community; minimize stressors; and encourage a healthy lifestyle. Factors such as civility, respect, and recognition along with safe, healthy, and welcoming physical spaces create a supportive campus.

  1. Expand what we offer

    6.1 Expand conditions for meaningful participation in the campus community by promoting mentorship and peer support programs, building community inside and outside the classroom/workplace, and providing spaces to build connections.

  2. Enhance what we do

    6.2 Ensure that design standards are in place when creating informal and formal learning and working spaces to consider the impact of the built environment on mental health.

    6.3 Promote teaching and learning practices that integrate inclusive curriculum and pedagogy and that include concepts of mental health and wellness.

  3. Develop new initiatives for the campus community

    6.4 Ensure psychological health and safety is recognized by adopting the Standard for Psychological Health and Safety on campus.