International network focuses on mental health
Mental health was a major topic of discussion at a recent student experience forum of the Matariki Network of Universities (MNU), an international organization of seven research-intensive institutions, including Queen’s.
“Many of our MNU partner institutions have a heightened awareness of mental health issues on campus,” says Mike Condra, Director, Health, Counselling and Disability Services. “We discussed ways to end the stigma surrounding mental health problems, and we also shared ideas about how we can improve access to services on campus.”
Queen’s is a leader among MNU institutions, according to Dr. Condra, because it is working to reduce stigma and provide education on mental health through its mental health working group. All MNU institutions, though, are experiencing pressure on resources as the demand for services increases.
Forum participants also discussed alcohol use by students. Dr. Condra says MNU institutions are dealing with the issue in similar ways, including educating students about the health impacts of alcohol misuse and applying sanctions for inappropriate behaviour related to alcohol consumption.
“We can’t necessarily take what other universities are doing and apply them directly to Queen’s. However, the forum was a great opportunity to hear and extract bits and pieces that could be used in our context,” he says.
The student experience forum also focused on how universities welcome and support international students. Dr. Condra shared details of the activities and programs that the Queen’s University International Centre offers to make international students feel comfortable on campus.
The participants also discussed how their respective universities accommodate students with disabilities.
“I can tell you that other universities will be looking at our website because our procedures are much more formalized,” says Dr. Condra.
Queen’s is a founding member of MNU, which is committed to providing rich learning and international experiences for all students, and strong stewardship through social and global responsibility.