Ensuring optimal mental health is necessary for a thriving Queen’s community. This university, like many others, has been troubled by events such as student suicide, faculty distress, and the high rate of mental illness in our community. And to be sure, health professionals are not immune from mental health challenges; to the contrary, we have long known that the rates of suicide are higher among physicians, for example, than in the general population.1,2
This past week, the report on the Principal’s Commission on Mental Health was released.3
All members of Queen’s community should take the time to read the entire report.
Don’t just scan it: http://www.queensu.ca/cmh/index/CMHFinalReport.pdf Don’t just read the executive summary, but actually read the report. Ultimately, the effectiveness of the recommendations will be predicated by the understanding and buy in from all of us.
The commissioners, David Walker (Chair), Lynann Clapham, Roy Jahchan, Jennifer Medves, and Ann Tierney have produced a superb report that suggests a four-level pyramidal framework and includes 116 recommendations. The four parts to the strategy are depicted below.
The report recommends that the value of mental health be prominent at the highest levels, including the vision and mandate of the university. Commissioners underscore the importance of making sure all entering Queen’s students, and their parents, are made aware of the facilities and supports available. The Commission emphasizes the importance of dealing head on with the issue of stigma. “Stigma is a complex cognitive and emotional process, sustained by societal attitudes and processes. Reversing it is also complex and requires patience fortitude and vision.”3 Quoting from the 2006 Mental Health Commission of Canada report, Out of the Shadows at Last ,5 is the frightening reality as expressed by one of the interviewees who said…”I would do anything to have breast cancer over mental illness. I would do anything because I would not have to put up with the stigma.” Additionally, the document recommends that we undertake a formal review of our Health Counseling and Disability Services.
If you have any comments on the report, or perhaps personal stories to share, comment on the blog…or better yet, please stop by the Macklem House, my door is always open.