Psychological Health and Safety for Post-Secondary Students (New Standard)

Public Review!

You have from September 6, 2019 to November 6, 2019 to share your insights, opinions, suggestions and guidance.

Public review is now over. The CSA Technical Committee is now reviewing comments and suggestions made regarding the draft CSA Standard from December 3-4th.


We NEED a Post-secondary Counsellor Voice!

Counsellors, this is our chance to shape post-secondary student mental health. You can provide feedback as a group or as individuals.

Click Here for Access to the Standard

Please share this link with your colleagues and other stakeholders across Canada.

This is our chance to make a difference!

Hey OCC-CCCO Members!

One of our OCC Executive members, Heather Drummond, is a member of the Technical Committee developing this standard. She has provided some guidance, insight and “behind the scenes” information to help us formulate and share our feedback.

Red arrows

Hi OCC-CCCO Members,

It’s Heather! Overall, I think that this CSA standard is great first attempt in developing a standard for post-secondary mental health. It is the first of it’s kind in the world! With being the first, there is a big responsibility, and considerable work, in the development of something like this without a template.

This is your chance shape campus mental health!

I thought that it was important to provide some insights to help guide you through this public review process. These are just my insights from my experience of being one of the committee members writing this standard; and, only one of TWO post-secondary counsellors on the committee representing our perspective.


  • “Big Picture Document”: This standard is meant to be a “big picture” guide for campus mental health, where no model/approach is to be suggested in the body of the standard. There will be two documents, the CSA Standard and an Implementation Guide. The implementation guide is where “best practice” suggestions are provided to support implementation of the standard on post-secondary campuses across Canada. You can use this understanding when you are reviewing the document.
  • Mental Health Model: The original CSA Workplace Mental Health Standard, “Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace“, does not use the term “mental illness” but chose to use “psychological distress” so as to not select one model of mental health (medical model) and exclude other approaches to mental health and wellbeing (cultural, theoretical, empirically supported, etc.).
    • I think that this standard should do the same; however the committee voted to select “mental illness” (medical model) as the framework and approach. I created a proposal to the committee to express the importance of a Bio-Psycho-Social approach to mental health, well being and psychological distress, as this approach encompasses many mental health approaches, both culturally and empirically.  As well, the high level lens of the Bio-Psycho-Social approach dovetails nicely with the philosophical writing lens, Socio-ecological model (Figure 1 in standard), that the committee selected for the creation of this document. Here is the proposal I sent out to the TC committee: BioPsychoSocial Lens Proposal expressing my concern and providing an alternative. *This standard is missing other cultural and empirical approaches to mental health and wellbeing. 
    • My main concern is that selecting a model, in a high level document like this, further supports where the funding goes. Funding the medical model only, is what is creating a lack of access to mental health services, for students and the community, across Canada. *Only provincial healthcare covered access is affordable; and as well, most people don’t have extended healthcare plans that adequatley fund access to Psychologists, Social workers and Psychotherapists. Documents like this direct where the money continues to go, and as such, we as counsellors, then have little, to no places to refer students to when they need more intensive or ongoing mental health care.
    • Background for your consideration:  Dr. Corey Keyes, Sociologist, is a voting member on this committee. His “Dual Continuum Model” is the model currently presented in the main standard, as the model representing mental health/mental illness. This model includes the medical model which could be a part of the Implementation Guide amongst other equally important, culturally safe, conceptual models.
  • Special Consideration for the Role of Counsellors: counsellors on post-secondary campuses experience the highest level of student psychological distress, repeatedly, and often without breaks in the peak service usage times during the academic year.
    • There is a standard that has been developed for Paramedics across Canada. Currently there is no similar standard for mental health professionals. It was suggested, by the two counsellors on this committee, that there could be a section offering suggestions for the health and safety of post-secondary counsellors. This was voted down as the rest of the committee thought that the workplace standard was sufficient.
    • This is our chance to talk about…
      • ratio of counsellors to students on campus
      • number of appointments per day
      • style of appointments (booked/drop-in, crisis, online, etc.)
      • strategies for keeping counsellors health
      • risks/hazards to our mental healthy
      • ADD YOUR SUGGESTIONS HERE! (Add your suggestions in the review process!)

Please take a moment to consider the importance of this model for student mental health. If we as Counsellors are kept healthy and if there is increased access to mental health services across Canada, society benefits.


Heather Drummond

*I have been permitted by CSA to share my suggestions.

BioPsychoSocial Intervention Model - Drummond

*The red bullets describe the medical model of mental health. This is a limited view. There is more to the mental health and wellbeing, empirically supported, lens.

Biopsychsocial Model – CSA Proposal – CSA – Drummond