Ontario students and post-secondary institutions make immediate call for new, integrated mental health strategy

Ontario students and post-secondary institutions make immediate call for new, integrated mental health strategy

TORONTO, Nov. 2, 2017 – Ontario’s students, colleges and universities are calling on the province to take immediate action on the growing problem of student mental health with an integrated strategy that begins in kindergarten and continues through high school, post-secondary life and adulthood.

A joint report released today calls for a ‘whole of community’ approach by government, health-care providers, community agencies, student associations and post-secondary institutions including mandatory curriculum to teach resiliency in young people, an early-warning system throughout all levels of education, counselling, and expanded use of technology – all at no cost to students whether they live on or off campus.

“Student mental health is a growing concern on post-secondary campuses across the country,” says Andrew Clubine, President of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA). “Students are calling on the province to take an integrated and comprehensive approach to improving mental wellness supports so that they can succeed both on and off campus.”

A new report called In It Together: Taking Action on Student Mental Health was released today by four groups representing the province’s 45 colleges and universities and more than 220,000 students.

In the report, the four partners – the College Student Alliance, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, Colleges Ontario and the Council of Ontario Universities – say providing effective support for student mental health is one of the most pressing issues on college and university campuses today, and that post-secondary institutions have made addressing it a priority but can’t meet the challenge alone.

Other recommendations in the report include:

  • An update to Ontario’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy to recognize post-secondary students as a distinct group
  • Clearly defined roles across four Ontario government ministries to ensure no service gaps
  • Close working relationships between post-secondary institutions and local health-care and community agencies to develop and implement a plan to help students with mental health concerns
  • Free mental health care for students – on and off campus – through increased services not currently funded by OHIP
  • Government investment in transition programing for high school students as they prepare to enter post-secondary

Quick Facts:

  • 75 per cent of mental health disorders first appear among people aged 18-24
  • A National College Health Assessment survey of college and university students reported that last year:
    • 46% of students reported feeling so depressed it was difficult to function, up from 40% in 2013
    • 65% of students reported overwhelming anxiety, up from 58%
    • 14% of students had seriously considered suicide, up from 11%


COU is the voice of Ontario’s universities, promoting the value of education, research and innovation that leads to social, cultural and economic success.

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