New issue of Academic Matters explores mental health challenges faced by faculty and students at Ontario’s universities

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Universities are designed as spaces where minds are nurtured—where expertise develops and new knowledge is generated. However, under academic, financial, and social pressures, faculty and students are more frequently reporting poor mental health—especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The latest issue of Academic Matters explores the mental health dilemma in the academy. In a space that is supposed to cultivate knowledge and nourish the mind, what does it mean that the mental health of faculty, staff, and students has reached a crisis point? How do we address the causes of poor mental health in our university communities?

Editoral Matters: Stress and anxiety in higher education
By Ben Lewis, Editor-in-Chief of Academic Matters
“Universities are designed as spaces where minds are nurtured—where expertise develops and new knowledge is generated. However, not all is well within the walls of the academy. Under academic, financial, and social pressures, faculty and students are more frequently reporting poor mental health. Even…”

Mental health in academia: The challenges faculty face predate the pandemic and require systemic solutions
By Ivy Bourgeault, University of Ottawa; Janet Mantler, Carleton University; & Nicole Power, Memorial University
“The pandemic has intensified many stress points for faculty and academic librarians while highlighting existing issues with how academic work is structured. This has left many feeling that they must choose between productivity and their own mental health. Mental health in academia has never been…”

Alarming trends in student mental health: What can postsecondary education institutions do?
By Michael Butler, Canadian Federation of Students–Ontario
“The data on student mental health is concerning, but there are clear steps postsecondary institutions can take to address the systemic causes of this growing crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply exacerbated pre-existing issues within postsecondary education (PSE) in Ontario. Students have struggled…”

Creating a culture of care: Addressing student feelings of isolation, stress, and hopelessness
By Jesmen Mendoza, X (Ryerson) University
“Sometimes, faculty are the first people students turn to for help when their mental health is suffering. How can faculty and academic librarians help build a more compassionate campus and assist these students in accessing existing campus supports? The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed and…”

How unions defend their members from psychological hazards
By Miriam Edelson
“As poor mental health has become a greater concern in workplaces, unions have been evolving how they support their members and advance new and better mental health protections in collective agreements. Unions have occasionally been given a bad reputation for how they handle the mental…”

Mental health, grief, loss, and bereavement through COVID-19
By Ameil Joseph and Shaila Kumbhare, McMaster University
“COVID-19 has caused unexpected loss and interrupted the ways we cope and grieve. These experiences, compounded by physical distancing measures that intensify feelings of isolation, have negatively impacted our wellbeing. Grief can refer to any kind of loss, including the loss of financial security…”

The shadowy business of international education
By Nicholas Hune-Brown
“Foreign students are lied to and exploited on every front. They’re also propping up higher education as we know it. The Singh Family home is a one-storey building of brick and cement on one of the main streets in Bibipur, a village of…”

Should university instructors disclose mental health conditions? It’s complicated
By Jenn Bergen, University of Saskatchewan; Ana Carolina de Barros, University of Saskatchewan; Jan M Gelech, University of Saskatchewan; Shannon Forrester, University of Saskatchewan; Simonne Horwitz, University of Saskatchewan, and Vicki Squires, University of Saskatchewan
“The onset of what some psychologists suggest is a mental health “parallel pandemic” during COVID-19 has created new questions about how post-secondary instructors address mental health in their classrooms. The negative impact of the pandemic on mental health in Canada is clear: significant…”

‘You have to suffer for your PhD’: poor mental health among doctoral researchers – new research
By Cassie M Hazell, University of Westminster
“PhD students are the future of research, innovation and teaching at universities and beyond – but this future is at risk. There are already indications from previous research that there is a mental health crisis brewing among PhD researchers. My colleagues and I studied the mental health of PhD researchers ….”

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