Repository logo

Mental health supports for post-secondary students - focus on animal-assisted wellness and trauma-informed practices

Faculty Advisor




post-secondary students, mental health, animal-assisted therapy, trauma-informed practice

Abstract (summary)

Mental health-related problems, stress and symptoms of mental illness have been increasing in Canadian postsecondary students. We need more focus on interdisciplinary campus services that help struggling students such as animal-assisted therapy on campus. Also, an important area of interest is understanding the psychosocial determinants of mental health such as the effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), experienced trauma, and added distress from discrimination and racism on post-secondary students. It is important for professors, administrators, and others to understand trauma-informed practices to prevent further harm. In attempts to avoid poor academic performance, and further accumulation of psychosocial problems, we need to address the needs of students. Specifically, trauma informed practices need exploration as research on trauma informed teaching and clinical practice are underutilized in Canadian campuses. Also, it is important to explore interdisciplinary therapy services, such as animal-assisted therapy that has a low barrier of participation. The overall goal for university administrators is to understand the complexity of student mental health that encompasses the diversity of post-secondary students’ mental health challenges, including interdisciplinary and trauma-informed practices. In this presentation I will present the results of a survey about trauma-informed practices utilized in Canadian universities. Also, I will share the results of a preliminary study about the effectiveness of animal-assisted therapy on a Canadian University campus. There is potential that this preliminary research will lead to further studies on how to educate campus members in trauma-informed practices, and further understanding of how we can prevent worsening of traumatized students' distress and improve their quality of life. Also, these are novel research results about additional treatments in student mental health, specifically on animal-assisted wellness and trauma-informed practices in post-secondary education.

Publication Information



Presented on June 11-14, 2024 at the 2024 STLHE Annual Conference held at the Niagara Falls Convention Centre in Niagara Falls, ON, Canada.

Item Type




All Rights Reserved

Embargoed Until:

MacEwan Users Only