Nov. 24, 2023

Campus Mental Health Strategy update brings renewed commitment to well-being and mental health

UCalgary seeks feedback on draft guiding principles and new name
Campus community attends the Campus Mental Health Strategy's renewal engagement event at the TFDL
Campus community members attend the Campus Mental Health Strategy's renewal engagement event at the Taylor Family Digital Library. Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

Launched in 2015, the Campus Mental Health Strategy (CMHS) has represented an important commitment to mental health and well-being at the University of Calgary. UCalgary is now ready to renew its vision of building a community of caringExtensive conversations with students, staff, faculty and an Elders Leadership Circle have helped inform the strategy’s new direction.

The updated strategy has a proposed new name: UCalgary’s Community Well-Being Strategy. The name and draft guiding principles recognize the connection between mental health and physical, emotional, social and spiritual well-being.  

The CMHS has embodied a wider perspective on mental health, says strategy director Dr. Andrew Szeto, PhD, a mental illness stigma researcher and professor in the Department of Psychology.

“As a stigma researcher myself, it’s important we expand our understanding and conceptions of mental health, so we can be more inclusive in our approach... connect and reach more of our community,” Szeto says.

Dr. Ed McCauley, UCalgary's President and Vice-Chancellor, left, and Dr. Andrew Szeto, Strategy Director

President Ed McCauley and Andrew Szeto at the community event.

Riley Brandt

Over the past eight years, the strategy has brought about meaningful change on campus, leading to the creation of a multi-year mental health-awareness campaign aimed at de-stigmatizing mental illnesses and help-seeking; an Embedded Certificate in Mental Well-Being and Resilience; the Suicide Awareness and Prevention Framework; a new biennial conference to forward research and practice in mental health and well-being; the annual UFlourish programs; improved policies and procedures at the university; and much more.

“The Campus Mental Health Strategy has helped facilitate crucial dialogue over the years and action amongst students that has helped lead to a better and more caring campus community,” says Ermia Rezaei-Afsah, vice-president student life with the UCalgary Students’ Union.


Riley Brandt, for the University of Calgary

Culture and community, education and support make up guiding principles 

Four new guiding principles have been drafted for the renewal of the strategy:

  • Influence culture and sustain an environment that values well-being.
  • Enable campus community members to sustain supportive environments for well-being.
  • Advance literacy, skill and understanding to support ourselves and others.
  • Increase awareness and facilitate access to supports on and off campus.  

“The renewal of Campus Mental Health Strategy is a chance to renew our commitment to both mental health and well-being on campus,” says Dr. Penny Werthner, interim provost and vice-president (academic).

“It provides us with an opportunity to engage our community to ensure we are creating an environment that is healthy and productive.” 

The renewed strategy is currently in draft form and the strategy team is looking for feedback to ensure it meets the needs of our campus community. Find ways to engage in in-person and online feedback — including an online survey that is open until Nov. 30. 

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