Media Releases

Honouring World Mental Health Day at U of T

October 14, 2014

TORONTO, ON — On World Men­tal Health Day, Min­is­ter of Train­ing, Col­leges and Uni­ver­si­ties Reza Mori­di vis­it­ed the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to to announce con­tin­ued provin­cial fund­ing of the Men­tal Health Inno­va­tion Fund.

Fund­ing will be extend­ed for an addi­tion­al two years, with the Min­istry invit­ing a third round of project pro­pos­als, Mori­di said.

“The Ontario gov­ern­ment is proud to renew our sup­port for the Men­tal Health Inno­va­tion Fund, which pro­vides Ontario’s post­sec­ondary stu­dents with access to high-qual­i­ty, coor­di­nat­ed men­tal health care,” said Mori­di. “The safe­ty and well-being of post­sec­ondary stu­dents is a cru­cial respon­si­bil­i­ty and this lat­est call for pro­pos­als will lead to new projects, which will help iden­ti­fy men­tal health issues and con­nect stu­dents to sup­ports faster.”

The Fund con­tributes six mil­lion dol­lars annu­al­ly to sup­port such projects. One exam­ple is the stu­dent-led ini­tia­tive By Stu­dents, For Stu­dents, said Assis­tant Pro­fes­sor Mar­cus Law of the Temer­ty Temer­ty Fac­ul­ty of Med­i­cine.

In 2013 Dr. Law received fund­ing from the MTCU Fund joint­ly with the Cen­tre for Addic­tion and Men­tal Health (CAMH) for the project, which allows stu­dents to use their cell phone or com­put­er to find men­tal health ser­vices such as pri­ma­ry care, spe­cial­ized men­tal health or addic­tions ser­vices and peer sup­port through an online, geo-locat­ed map.

Today, the project is run by 33 stu­dents from U of T, the Ontario Col­lege of Art and Design Uni­ver­si­ty and Ryer­son Uni­ver­si­ty in a way that max­i­mizes their tal­ents, cre­ativ­i­ty and exper­tise, said Law.

“The work our stu­dents do has a pow­er­ful impact by de-stig­ma­tiz­ing and encour­ag­ing con­ver­sa­tions about men­tal health and well­ness and pro­vid­ing peo­ple with much need­ed infor­ma­tion about the men­tal health sup­ports and resources avail­able to them across the GTA,” said Law.

Trin­i­ty Col­lege stu­dent Kaleem Hawa sits on an advi­so­ry com­mit­tee for U of T health and well­ness ser­vices. A strong pro­po­nent of men­tal health ini­tia­tives at the uni­ver­si­ty, he dis­cussed some of the stu­dent-run pro­grams designed to improve sup­port on cam­pus.

“One of the projects brings togeth­er a con­sor­tium of stu­dent coun­cil pres­i­dents who work on pro­vid­ing men­tal health train­ing for stu­dent lead­ers in the com­mu­ni­ty,” said Hawa, co-founder of U of T’s men­tal health action team. “This is par­tic­u­lar­ly pow­er­ful as vul­ner­a­ble stu­dents often turn to those in posi­tions of respon­si­bil­i­ty. So it’s cru­cial that our stu­dent lead­ers know how to talk about depres­sion, anx­i­ety and stress, and know what resources are avail­able on cam­pus.”

The next wave of pro­pos­als to the MTCU will focus on Abo­rig­i­nal stu­dents, stu­dents with addic­tions, and those tran­si­tion­ing from sec­ondary to post-sec­ondary edu­ca­tion, Mori­di said.

“Here in our province of Ontario we so often focus on access and afford­abil­i­ty to help as many stu­dents as pos­si­ble get a world class post-sec­ondary edu­ca­tion. But we must nev­er lose sight of our most impor­tant respon­si­bil­i­ty, to ensure the safe­ty and well-being of all of our stu­dents,” said Mori­di. “It is cru­cial that we do what we can to ensure that stu­dents in this province are get­ting the sup­port they need to enjoy good men­tal and phys­i­cal health through­out their learn­ing jour­ney.”

Among those in atten­dance was Moridi’s par­lia­men­tary assis­tant, MPP Han Dong. The occa­sion marked Dong’s first vis­it to U of T since being elect­ed this sum­mer in the Trin­i­ty-Spad­i­na rid­ing in which the down­town cam­pus resides. (See a pho­to gallery of the event.)

Lucy Fro­mowitz, U of T assis­tant vice-pres­i­dent (stu­dent life), said ensur­ing that strong men­tal health resources are in place allows stu­dents to flour­ish.

“Our work in devel­op­ing the Stu­dent Men­tal Health Frame­work rec­og­nizes the rela­tion­ship between the aca­d­e­m­ic envi­ron­ment and stu­dent health, places a focus on pro­mot­ing health and well-being as a foun­da­tion for aca­d­e­m­ic and life suc­cess, and ensures we pro­vide a range of pro­grams and ser­vices to meet the con­tin­u­um of stu­dent men­tal health needs.”


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Media Rela­tions
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to
Tel: 416–978-0100