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Louise Bradley: Making the grade on campus mental health

An opinion by an expert.



File photo via PxHere.


Louise Bradley
, Mental Health Commission of Canada
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual, including The Avro Post. Our Opinion Policy.

I remember my post-secondary years like they were yesterday.

And not because it was the joyful time I had hoped for.

For me, it was a time of turmoil — a time when I lost my closest friend to suicide, and her death made me realize that I had a lot of unresolved trauma of my own.

I’m telling you this because there are some people who question whether mental health matters on campus. People who say that universities are institutes of higher learning — full stop. That they don’t have a responsibility or an obligation to see students through the rough patches they encounter, to teach them how to bend — not break — when confronted with life’s inevitable challenges.

To them I say this: Were it not for a caring dean of nursing, who put me on a path to therapy, insight, and healing, I know I would not be sitting where I am today, leading the country’s national body on mental health.

Her kindness, her perception, and her insistence that I seek care reinforced the feeling that I was someone worth investing in. And I believe that every student, no matter their background, social status, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity, deserves the same kind of compassion I received.

Thankfully, many campuses today are realizing the value of investing in student mental wellness, and they are stepping up to the plate to bridge gaps in access to services. In fact, nine institutions so far have piloted The Inquiring Mind Post-Secondary training (TIM PS) — an evidence-based program that teaches students how to hold up a mirror to gain an understanding of their mental state — while another 20 are beginning to roll it out.

As I write this, some 3,000 students in Canada have been introduced to simple behavioural therapy techniques to manage stress and to the mental health continuum model, which describes mental wellness on a colour coded scale — green (healthy), yellow (reacting), orange (injured), and red (ill). The Working Mind, the workplace predecessor of TIM PS, has clearly demonstrated the program’s capacity to improve help-seeking behaviour and create more supportive, caring workplaces.

It makes terrific sense to start young people on an early path to self-care and self-awareness: to teach students that their academic progress goes hand in glove with their capacity to build resiliency, encourage them to look after their mental well-being, and support friends and family who may be experiencing a mental health problem.

With mental health services on campuses being oversubscribed because young people are more willing than my generation was to step up and ask for help, many institutions are recognizing the need to do things differently. This proactive approach will prevent a crisis from bubbling up.

By intervening appropriately, they will be sending new graduates out into the world who are equipped not only for the intellectual demands of their careers — but also for emotional rigours they’re sure to encounter.

With $6 billion in lost workplace productivity every year, training post-secondary students in TIM PS should bolster their mental wellness, as well as their productivity. 

Students are hardly “delicate flowers,” as a hard-nosed columnist once suggested. They are people on a search for knowledge, a quest for understanding. They should be encouraged to look both outward and inward to find the answers they seek.

Supporting them, and helping them to thrive, both academically and emotionally, will lead to a healthier and happier society. ■

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Andrew Scheer resigning as Conservative Party leader

He will remain as an MP.



File photo of Andrew Scheer via Wikimedia Commons.

After failing to claim a win in the federal election and amid revelations that he used party money to pay for his children’s private schooling, Andrew Scheer said on Thursday he will resign as leader of the Conservative Party.

Scheer said he will remain as leader until a replacement is chosen in remarks to the House of Commons after the news broke, adding that he will ask the party to start the process of a leadership contest. He will remain the member of parliament for Regina–Qu’Appelle.

“In order to chart the course ahead in the direction this party is heading, the party needs someone who can give 100 per cent,” Scheer, who led the Conservatives in winning the popular vote. Because the Tory ballots were concentrated in prairie provinces, the party was unable to win the most ridings.

His resignation comes as a direct result of new revelations that he was using party money to pay for his children’s private schooling, according to Conservative sources who spoke with Global News. The money was spent without permission from the Tory fund board.

Though the decision to resign was not made lightly, Scheer cited conversations with his loved ones, and said he “felt it was time to put my family first”.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau thanked Scheer for his service in parliament and said “I wish him all the very, very best in his next steps” while acknowledging the sacrifices made by the families of politicians. ■

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Once again, reporters barred from IGNITE Board meeting

The meeting takes place at Lakeshore Campus.



IGNITE logo on a Lakeshore Campus building on Dec. 11, 2019.

Two student reporters from The Avro Post were told they could not enter a Board of Directors meeting at Lakeshore Campus on Wednesday evening by Chairperson Neto Naniwambote, once again breaking the student union’s own bylaws.

The bylaws state that Board meetings are open to members — all students — unless the directors then and there pass a motion to exclude the members from the meeting.

Because reporters arrived at what was scheduled to be the beginning of the meeting, it is clear there was no such vote for Wednesday. Minutes released from September and October show no such vote took place.

IGNITE broke its own bylaws when an official told a student journalist in September that she could not enter what turned out later to be a critical Board meeting and continues to do so each time it blocks students without a vote.

In October, four reporters from The Post attempted to find a meeting scheduled to take place in North Campus. Despite being early to the location of where they typically occur, the reporters were unable to find any directors

The November meeting was scheduled to take place in the University of Guelph-Humber. It appeared as though it was taking place inside a conference room on the first floor of the Atrium but reporters were unable to verify.

The organization also removed the exact times and meeting locations that were posted in the summer sometime between Aug. 14 and Sept. 11 — another violation of its bylaws that they have not addressed.

As pressure mounts from student journalists and those that follow student politics to create more transparency, IGNITE has been holding Board of Directors meetings without allowing access.

The Board meetings were set for 6 p.m. before the time was deleted from the IGNITE website. Room numbers were also given and can still be previewed via a website cataloging service.  ■

Reporting by Kristy Lam, Eli Ridder.
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Province appealing to restore Student Choice Initiative

An Ontario court ruled against the SCI in November.



File photo of Premier Doug Ford.

The provincial government under the Progressive Conservatives is applying for leave to file an appeal against a ruling from the Divisional Court of Ontario that overturned the Student Choice Initiative.

A leave for appeal is a procedural measure that must be taken before an appeal is heard by the Court. Thus, the ruling of the Court stands and the SCI continues to be deemed unlawful.

The initiative, known as the SCI, was introduced earlier this year and came into play this fall semester. It allowed students to opt-out of paying certain “non-essential” ancillary fees that fund student unions, campus publication and other post-secondary organizations across the province.

The mandate came from the university and colleges ministry and was not passed through Queen’s Park. PC Party officials insisted to The Avro Post that it allowed for freedom of choice, allowing students to pay only for services that they felt was worth their financial support.

In response, the provincial division of the Canadian Federation of Students and York University’s student union filed a legal challenge against the SCI, stating that they failed to consult with students and should not have interfered with the autonomy of student unions.

Judges ruled unanimously in November to throw out the SCI, an unexpected victory for student allies. They found that the government has “no legal power to control the universities even if it wished to”.

A brief filed by the province on Monday evening states that the ruling restricts the authority to attach conditions to the funding given to public colleges and universities, according to reports by student newspapers.

“Attaching conditions to government grants in no way interferes with university autonomy and independence,” the brief reads, adding that post-secondary institutions “remain free” to accept taxpayer dollars, subject to the conditions that come along with the funding.

Over $5 billion comes from provincial coffers to the province’s 21 publicly assisted universities and 24 funded colleges. The Progressive Conservatives argue that the introducing optional student fees is an attempt to allow students to save more financially.

The court ruling, however, pointed out that the optional ancillary fees are a small portion of what students pay in tuition and other fees. For students at Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber, there was only a charge of $55.95 compared to hundreds in overall fees.

The Winter 2020 semester starts in January and fees are due shortly. Some campuses are currently considering their legal options for removing the opt-out option for ancillary fees, The Globe and Mail reported.

IGNITE did not participate in the lawsuit against the province and did not offer support. The student union also refused to respond to the November ruling against the SCI until the government gave a statement. ■

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