The Council of Alberta University Students is asking students who have been affected by the mental health funding that MacEwan University, Mount Royal University, the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary, and the University of Lethbridge received starting in 2013 to share their stories with MLAs in hopes that the funding, which runs out in June of this year, is renewed.
CAUS encourages you to write from the heart and share how mental health and mental health services available on campus have touched your life. However, if you are stuck for words we have created the following letter templates for you to use or modify when writing to your MLA. We also suggest that if you are sending a letter or email to your MLA you send a copy of it to the Advanced Education Minister, Marlin Schmidt. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re not sure who your MLA is you can find out here.
Template Letter One
I am reaching out to you as a student at the University of _______ to talk to you about mental health on my campus. In 2013, the Alberta Government announced 3-year mental health funding for post-secondary campuses, including my own. The funding is set to expire in 2016, and I am worried that the services students have come to rely on will not continue if the upcoming budget does not address this.
This funding is extremely important. In the campus community, I have witnessed the daily stress and struggle of students trying to juggle their academics, extra-curricular commitments, part-time/full-time jobs, and anything that may be left of their social and family life. This juggling act is tough, and sometimes coping is not enough and we need to seek professional help. I cannot emphasize how valuable it is to have enough counselling services to meet the demand on campus that are free of cost so we can treat and prevent mental health issues now – rather than later as they become more costly.
I know that the Mental Health Review was released recently, and I noticed that post-secondary mental health was not one of the six recommendations the province promised to prioritize. Do you have any insight on this? What can we do, as students, to ensure that this funding gets renewed?
Looking forward to your response,
Template Letter Two
My name is _________ and I am emailing you in regards to campus mental health. I know that for the past 3 years, my university has been receiving funding for mental health services that is set to expire this year.
With the upcoming budget, I would like to know if the government will be renewing the funding? I cannot stress how important it is that they do. Students have benefited greatly from this support, and I hope the government is aware of its value.
Looking forward to your response,
CAUS’ Position on Student Mental Health
As your elected student representatives working together at the provincial level, CAUS has been talking to government about the importance of renewed funding for mental health services on our campuses. The backgrounder CAUS has written on mental health funding is available to download using the link at the bottom of this page and the recommendations we have provided to government are listed below.
- Funding for student and campus mental health supports should be provided to post-secondary institutions directly and distributed based on an FLE weighted calculation.
- Funding allocated to institutions should be used to maintain and expand professional programming and hire mental health service delivery experts, such as counsellors and psychologists.
- Students’ Associations and Students’ Unions should play a central role in discussions with their respective institutional administrations on how student and campus mental health funding is used and should be included on the reporting of what impacts such funding has at the respective institution.
- Funding for mental health service delivery should be prioritized to ensure students across Alberta have adequate access to professional mental health service providers.
- Funding for provincially funded student-led mental health initiatives be discontinued and instead encourage the respective institutional administration to work with their Students’ Association or Students’ Union in addressing the need for student-led programming for mental health supports and anti-stigma campaigns.
- Should student-led programming initiatives like ACMHI be continued, ensure these programs are expanded to become independent, arms-length-from-government organizations open to all Students’ Associations and Students’ Unions in Alberta.