(Montreal) When you’re fueled by performance and pressured by work and exams to succeed at all costs, your mental health can suffer. To have a clearer picture of the mental state of CEGEP students and university students, Quebec is launching a new observatory.
Higher Education Minister Pascale Dery announced at the University of Sherbrooke on Tuesday morning the creation of an observatory on student well-being and mental health in higher education.
To do this, Quebec is investing $2.8 million over five years. The research project is co-directed by researchers from the Université de Sherbrooke and Ségepe de Jonquière.
The observatory’s work is led by Associate Professor Julie Lane in the Faculty of Education at the University of Sherbrooke and Benjamin Gallas, a researcher at the Center for the Study of Living Conditions and Needs (ECOBES) from Segep de. Janquier.
The project aims to “document the mental health status of Quebec’s current student population,” said a press release accompanying the announcement.
The objectives of the observatory are surveillance and monitoring, research and development of knowledge, appropriate training and mobilization of knowledge.
In addition, the observatory has a mandate to conduct a national survey on student mental health to assess its evolution over time.
According to Benjamin Gallois, more than 160 people in Quebec, Canada and internationally are already collaborating with the observatory. Six Quebec colleges are currently members of the Observatory.
Speaking on behalf of Professor Lane, who is out of the country, project coordinator Félix Guay-Dufour said the structure would be made up of “researchers, practitioners, but also a large number of students”.
He emphasized that these “have important roles” in governance and in the success of research activities to be “well anchored in the real needs of students”.
At a press conference at the University of Sherbrooke, the minister acknowledged that better mental health support would have a beneficial effect on graduation.
Whether we are talking about anxiety disorders, depression or other problems, “it slows down the educational path a little bit, it is inevitable,” admitted the minister.
“If we can intervene and help these young people, it helps with persistence, it helps with success. This will allow them to graduate and ensure they can complete their academic career,” she continued.
In testimony delivered via video, Quebec’s chief scientist Remi Quirian said he dreams of a day when we can talk about his mental illness as freely as we can about heart disease or even cancer.
“Very often, people with heart disease or cancer have the support of relatives, friends and colleagues. Too often, with mental illnesses, we are afraid to talk about it. We are afraid of losing our reputation. »
The creation of the observatory is part of the Action Plan on Student Mental Health in Higher Education (PASME) 2021-2026.
Minister Pascal Dery revealed that the action plan is already producing results as another 10,179 students were able to benefit from mental health services, representing a 23% increase.