Mental health study will develop guidelines for Ontario's universities and colleges

Mental health study will develop guidelines for Ontario's universities and colleges

March 11, 2014


By Craig Leroux, Senior Communications Officer

A provincial survey launches this week as part of a research collaboration between Queen’s University and St. Lawrence College aimed at developing province-wide documentation standards and guidelines for accommodating students with mental health disabilities.

The initiative is being co-led by Dr. Mike Condra, Assistant Professor in Queen’s Department of Psychology and Director of Health, Counselling and Disability Services and Ms Wanda Williams, Director of Student Services at St. Lawrence College.

The survey, distributed this week to faculty across Ontario’s colleges and universities, will give the project’s research team a better understanding of the current practices and challenges of the academic accommodations process. A separate survey for students with mental health disabilities will be distributed through Disability Services Offices across Ontario.

Dr. Mike Condra

“We know that the number of post-secondary students in Ontario with mental health disabilities registered with Disability Services Offices has increased by 67% over the last five years,” says Dr. Condra, the Principal Investigator for the project. “The goal is to better understand the experiences of both faculty and students regarding the academic accommodations process.”

The $1 million, three-year project is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) through the Mental Health Innovation Fund. The information collected will be used to develop a consistent set of guidelines for Ontario’s colleges and universities. The project will also develop academic accommodation resources and guides for faculty and students.

“Mental health problems are often cyclical or intermittent, and each institution may have slightly different practices around granting an accommodation” says Dr. Condra. “Faculty need clear information about how they can support students with mental health disabilities. Students need specific information about how and when to access academic accommodations and who is able to provide support.”

Faculty members at Queen’s will receive an invitation to participate in the survey this week and can complete it in 10 to 30 minutes. The link to the faculty survey is also provided here.

Queen’s also received $426,000 from the MTCU to develop a peer mentoring program focused on supporting students with mental health problems, which will be shared with post-secondary institutions across Ontario after being pilot-tested and evaluated.