Providing effective mental health resources for postsecondary students is an important issue for our sector. For many, including our students, staff and faculty, navigating the challenges of COVID-19 has been met with rising levels of stress and anxiety – from facing pandemic fears and social isolation to balancing childcare, financial uncertainty and working from home.
Addressing and prioritizing mental health is now more important than ever. With 75 per cent of these issues beginning before the age of 25, postsecondary students are particularly vulnerable to these experiences.
Throughout this time, Ontario’s universities remain committed to partnering for the mental health and well-being of our students and communities. From providing continued mental health services to finding innovative ways to virtually connect with students, each and every Ontario university is working to support our university communities.
Initiatives like #BellLet’sTalk Day are helping raise awareness around mental health and reduce stigma, and while gains have been made when it comes to openly talking about and supporting mental illness, more needs to be done to help ensure individuals can get the support they need to pursue their ambitions. We all have a role to play.
That is why Ontario’s universities, in partnership with colleges and student groups, are advocating for a whole-of community approach to student mental health through our joint initiative, In It Together.
In It Together advocates for community-based mental health services, transitional programming for students as they enter postsecondary and timely access to effective care. It requires partnerships between postsecondary, government, health-care providers and community agencies to ensure Ontarians are supported from K-12 to postsecondary and into adulthood.
Another way universities and colleges are working to improve access to mental health services is through the Centre for Innovation in Campus Mental Health (CICMH). CICMH works with all 44 campuses and more than 100 community partners to share resources that help campus mental health workers on the frontline address student needs.
But more can be done.
Mental health is a societal issue with ripple effects that touch everything from health care to the workplace and the economy. The path forward for mental health advocacy lies in collaboration and partnership to help make sure that those who need help can access the services they seek.
Ontario needs a whole-of-community approach to mental health. From government and community stakeholders to postsecondary institutions and health-care organizations, more hands on deck will create a better future for our students, communities and province and ensure their mental health and well-being are well supported.
President & CEO
Council of Ontario Universities
Read our one-pager to learn more about how Ontario’s universities are Supporting the Mental Health and Well-being of Ontario’s Communities.
Read our 2020 joint report, In It Together 2020: Foundations for Promoting Mental Wellness in Campus Communities to learn more about our recommendations for helping meet the growing challenge of student mental health.