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Concordia charts a new course to support health and wellness on campus

Recent report identifies 7 priority areas in response to changing dynamics of student life
November 8, 2018
Lisa Ostiguy: “Our mandate was to create a blueprint that will infuse prevention and wellbeing into the core of our academic operations and services.”
Lisa Ostiguy: “Our mandate was to create a blueprint that will infuse prevention and wellbeing into the core of our academic operations and services.”

Concordia has released a report that will chart a new course for the delivery of health and wellness on campus. The Student Health and Wellbeing Review outlines a series of recommendations that will touch on all aspects of curriculum, student service operations and university policy and reflects Concordia’s ongoing transformation into a next-generation university.

In the fall of 2017, Concordia’s president Alan Shepard requested a formal review on student health and wellbeing at Concordia in response to an increase in the number of students requiring assistance for mental and physical health, as well as the ever-changing dynamics of student life on campus.

The university appointed an eight-person committee consisting of staff, students and senior leadership to conduct the review.

“As a next-generation university with significant research expertise in preventive health, this process was an important exploration of how Concordia can build on its strengths,” says Lisa Ostiguy, special advisor to the provost on Campus Life and committee co-chair.

“Our mandate was to create a blueprint that will infuse prevention and wellbeing into the core of our academic operations and services.”

A collaborative process

The review committee was guided by a process that engaged the Concordia community through Idea Cafés, as well as interviews with subject matter experts from Concordia and broader Montreal, an environmental scan of North American universities and feedback from directors across Concordia’s student services.

Following the assessment of all of the internal and external data, several priorities emerged to enhance the health and wellbeing of Concordia’s students.

Each recommendation is infused with preventive health principles and demonstrates an effort to bring these principles to Concordia’s services and operations through practical initiatives that have been prioritized by Concordians.

The seven priority areas are:

  1. Curriculum and training
  2. Supporting services for student health and wellbeing
  3. Health communications
  4. Spaces where Concordians can meaningfully connect
  5. Policy and procedures
  6. Student engagement
  7. Creating a culture and community that supports student health and wellbeing

For Gaya Arasaratnam, committee co-chair and director of Campus Wellness and Support Services, the report is a remarkable community effort that reflects the character of Concordia.

“Concordians care deeply about the wellbeing of all our students and to maximize this will require a common effort. The feedback and recommendations put forward are  a wonderful first step to significant changes on campus.”

Next moves

Already two key initiatives from the report’s recommendations are in fruition.

The first is the development of an embedded advisor wellness program poised to set a new standard in campus mental-health services in fall 2019. This initiative was made possible through a generous donation by the Rossy Foundation.

In addition, Concordia will adopt the Okanagan Charter that was developed by 380 researchers, practitioners, administrators, students and policymakers from 45 countries as Concordia works towards the goal of embedding health and wellness into the everyday operations of universities and colleges.

Concordia is also the first Quebec university to adopt the charter and join the network of Canadian Health Promoting Campuses, which aims to engage higher education institutions to advance the health-promoting universities and colleges movement within Canada.

A concrete five-year action plan has been put in place to carry out the recommendations of the Health and Wellness and will be overseen by Ostiguy.

Consult Concordia’s Health and Wellbeing Review for complete details on the review process, findings, recommendations and priorities, as well as the action plan going forward.



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