Improving post-secondary mental health

We're working with post-secondary institutions to promote positive mental health and ensure supports are accessible when students need them.


Student mental well-being is linked to academic achievement, learning, retention and future success.

We’re taking steps to ensure post-secondary institutions are better equipped to promote positive mental health and well-being and provide supports when students need them.

Advisory panel

An expert advisory panel developed recommendations for a long-term approach to post-secondary mental health funding and support.

The panel included post-secondary students, faculty, staff, Alberta Health Services and the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Read the Advisory panel report.

Next steps

Based on the panel’s recommendations, we are working with post-secondary institutions to implement 7 steps to promote and support mental wellness and build more resilient campus communities, so students get the care they need.

These align with our vision of an integrated community-based health care system.

The 7 steps include:

  1. Providing equitable funding to publicly funded post-secondary institutions
    • Consistent, annual funding directly to post-secondary institutions.
    • Support on-campus health promotion, wellbeing programs and training for staff.
  2. Defining roles of post-secondary and public health systems in improving post-secondary student mental health
    • Post-secondary system manages health promotion and early intervention, while the health system will provide clinical care services.
    • Students will benefit from a more coordinated systems that is accessible and easy to navigate.
  3. Supporting Indigenous post-secondary students' mental health
    • Funding First Nations Colleges to provide mental health promotion, prevention and care for their students.
    • Working with publicly funded institutions to ensure they provide culturally affirming mental health supports for Indigenous students.
  4. Integrating on-campus mental health supports with larger regional systems
    • Post-secondary institutions, AHS, primary care, and community providers are coordinating regional services to provide better access and transitions for post-secondary students.
  5. Funding Healthy Campus Alberta Community of Practice
    • Students will benefit from consistent approaches and a strengthened post-secondary mental health system.
  6. Improving access to 24-hour universal supports throughout the province
    • Enhancing 211 referral service and web tools to better serve students and expand access to crisis lines.
    • Access will be available to all students, including distance learning students.
  7. Reviewing student aid policies
    • Advanced Education is reviewing its student financial assistance policies and will consider how to support students experiencing mental health concerns.

National College Health Assessment Survey Results

Ten Alberta post-secondary institutions participated in the National College Health Assessment survey in 2016 to better inform their health and wellness programming.

The survey highlighted, over 12 months in 2015-16:

  • 57.5% of students felt hopeless
  • More than 90% felt overwhelmed
  • 65% felt very lonely
  • More than 42% felt so depressed it was difficult to function
  • Almost 64% felt overwhelming anxiety
  • 13.1% seriously had considered suicide, and 2.1% attempted suicide
  • 18.9% had been diagnosed or treated by a professional for anxiety and 15.4% for depression