The University of Waterloo has adopted the Okanagan Charter (OC), a framework that calls upon post-secondary institutions to embed health into all aspects of campus culture.
The OC was signed by Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor of Waterloo, at a mental health forum held on campus October 24.
The OC commits the university to use a health and wellness lens in its planning and to inform its policies and procedures and to develop a university-wide Health Promotion and Wellness Collaborative. The OC also commits the University to and to host a bi-annual research and education forum, develop and maintain mental health metrics and broader measures of health and wellness for evaluating programs and services.
“The University of Waterloo is committed to the health and wellbeing of its students, which is why it has taken the step to adopt the Okanagan Charter in addition to the many health initiatives already underway,” said Hamdullahpur. “The Charter fulfills another commitment outlined in the President’s Advisory Committee on Mental Health and the University’s commitment to student wellness more generally.”
The OC was one of the 36 recommendations outlined in the final report of the President’s Advisory Committee on Student Mental Health. The final report was released in March 2018. Since being released, over 40 per cent of the recommendations have been implemented. The remaining recommendations will be addressed within two years.
"It’s great to see such important leadership across this university in tackling this issue head-on," said John Hirdes, a professor in Waterloo’s Faculty of Applied Health Sciences and chair of the implementation committee. "I’ve been very heartened and grateful for the support we’ve gotten from across campus for the participation we’ve had in the CoSMH committee."