College health statistics coming to Canada

A new survey plans to compile health information on post-secondary students

A CCWS survey web page. Photo: Liam Hill-Allan
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Reported by Henri Ngimbis

Langara College is one of three post-secondary institutions currently participating in the rollout of a new survey aimed at providing Canadian universities and colleges with student mental health statistics.

The survey, called the Canadian Campus Wellbeing Survey, was launched in early November. Historically, Canadian post-secondary institutions have relied on statistics compiled in the National College Health Assessment, a survey run by the American College Health Association.

American stats

However, according to the CCWS Information Package 2019-2020, “There have been concerns regarding the appropriateness and value of the NCHA in a Canadian context.”

Guy Faulkner, one of the project’s UBC based research members, said that gathering this kind of Canadian information is important.

“Interventions that promote health and wellbeing among young adults are needed,” said Faulkner. “Such interventions, however, require measurement tools that support intervention planning, monitoring and evaluation.”

In this case, the tool used is a survey on health topics such as physical activity, sexual behaviour and substance use.

The survey is in a pilot phase and is currently only active at Langara, UBC and the University of Toronto.

More schools to follow

However, according to an email from CCWS project manager Nikki Reiter, 17 additional post-secondary institutions will join the project between January and March of 2020, following the current pilot phase.

Reiter said participating schools will be able to use the system to view their own statistics, as well as others.

“Institutions will be able to compare themselves nationally to an aggregated dataset and see how they fare in core areas of student wellbeing,” Reiter said. “We hope that the CCWS will be the new standard for information gathering for student mental and physical health and wellbeing on campuses across Canada.”

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