Earlier today, McGill announced a new approach to student mental health and well-being that includes the Student Wellness Hub. The ambitious $14-million initiative reimagines the way health services are provided, with a newly integrated, campus-wide approach to physical and mental health and wellness, and a greater emphasis on awareness, prevention and earlier intervention. McGill’s Faculties will also play a role in developing on-site wellness and mental health programs specific to the needs of their students.
The campus-wide initiative is partly funded by The Rossy Foundation, a Montreal-based private foundation established in 2004. The Rossy Foundation’s mission is to contribute to civil society and to improve the lives of Canadians with a focus on cancer care, mental health, civic engagement, education and the arts. Within mental health, The Rossy Foundation’s priority is to support the needs of young adults in the post-secondary context.
Additional funding to support tailored wellness and mental health programs in the Desautels Faculty of Management comes from Gisele and Neil Murdoch, BCom’81.
New model of care
“We are very grateful to The Rossy Foundation for their ongoing support and for their vision for student wellness on our campuses, as well as to the Murdochs for their commitment to our Desautels students,” said Professor Suzanne Fortier, McGill’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “We are very committed to the holistic wellness of our students here at McGill, which is why we are adopting this new model of care for students that emphasizes prevention and early intervention.”
“Student mental health and wellness is very important for the University,” added Professor Christopher Manfredi, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “We are committed to engaging in authentic and stigma-free mental health dialogue and to building a new structure for increased access to services and information. With this contribution from The Rossy Foundation, McGill will be able to sustain this transformational project.”
The Hub integrates existing campus services and creates new ways to access them, not only in the Brown Student Services Building, but also directly in Faculties and other units through Local Wellness Advisors. These Local Wellness Advisors create two-way links between the central Hub and outlying locations around the University, connecting students to Hub services and offering site-specific programming. They are integral to the new hub-and-spoke model of care that reaches out to students where they live, learn and study.
The first set of Local Wellness Advisors are now in place in the Faculties of Arts, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Law, Education, Music and Engineering, as well as at the Student Housing and Dining Service Centre for McGill Residences. Five more advisors will join the team in fall 2019.
Holistic approach to improve wellness outcomes
Vera Romano, Director of the Hub, explained the evolution of the University’s new approach. “After consultations with students, staff, and experts in mental health over many months, it’s become clear that a new holistic approach to wellness and care is what’s needed to better support our students. It’s not just about offering more clinicians, but rethinking care to make it more flexible, accessible, and tailored to the individuals seeking support, resulting in improved overall wellness outcomes.”
The physical space of the Student Wellness Hub will be a “one-stop shop” for all of Student Services’ health-related resources, including the Student Health Clinic, Counselling Services and Psychiatric Services. The Hub Commons will be an inviting space where students can relax before appointments. The Hub Healthy Living Annex, attached to the Commons, will be dedicated to outreach, promotion and peer-support activities.
A virtual Hub will complement the physical Hub and act as a single portal for online health and wellness information. It will also serve as the virtual Access Point for Hub services, eventually allowing students to book appointments online.
Construction of the physical space for the Hub in the Brown Building is underway. Both the Hub and the Virtual Hub will open by summer 2019, and officially launch for the 2019-2020 academic year.
This new approach to student wellness also includes a communications plan around mental health literacy and awareness, aiming to reduce stigma and educate the campus community on healthy and viable ways to balance learning and working.