Media Releases

UTSC offers Canada’s only undergraduate program in mental health studies

August 23, 2010

TORONTO, ON — Canada’s only under­grad­u­ate pro­gram in men­tal health stud­ies is now enter­ing its sec­ond year at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toronto’s Scar­bor­ough Cam­pus (UTSC).

Tra­di­tion­al under­grad­u­ate psy­chol­o­gy pro­grams focus both on nor­mal and on abnor­mal psy­cho­log­i­cal process­es,  with the for­mer usu­al­ly receiv­ing the lion’s share of atten­tion.  UTSC’s Men­tal Health Stud­ies pro­gram pro­vides a strong foun­da­tion in the sci­ence of psy­chol­o­gy, with a par­tic­u­lar focus on abnor­mal process­es and approach­es to their treat­ment.

The pro­gram was a tremen­dous suc­cess last year, accom­mo­dat­ing more than 400 stu­dents in its inau­gur­al year. This year, pro­gram direc­tors are wit­ness­ing con­tin­ued growth in enrol­ment and expect even high­er num­bers of stu­dents to reg­is­ter for this inno­v­a­tive  pro­gram.

John Bassili, Chair of the Depart­ment of  Psy­chol­o­gy at UTSC, says the pop­u­lar­i­ty of the pro­gram is relat­ed to a grow­ing appre­ci­a­tion among stu­dents of the preva­lence of men­tal health dis­or­ders, and a grow­ing pub­lic aware­ness of their impact on soci­ety.

“There has been a grad­ual real­iza­tion in our soci­ety that peo­ple whom we used to think of as  ‘act­ing crazy’ are real peo­ple who have  real health issues,” says Bassili. “Issues relat­ed to men­tal health are all around us, whether it is a fam­i­ly mem­ber who suf­fers from depres­sion or some­one on the street who is agi­tat­ed and caus­ing a dis­rup­tion, so we need to learn more and approach these prob­lems from an edu­cat­ed per­spec­tive.”

Once stu­dents have learned about men­tal health from an edu­cat­ed per­spec­tive and acquired their degree in men­tal health stud­ies, what’s the next step?

A degree in men­tal health stud­ies lays the ground­work for a stu­dent to pur­sue grad­u­ate stud­ies in clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gy, social work, med­i­cine, or to pur­sue a career work­ing in a men­tal health facil­i­ty.  But it isn’t restric­tive and cer­tain­ly won’t close any aca­d­e­m­ic doors. “If a men­tal health stud­ies grad want­ed, he or she  could even opt for law school, a field where an appre­ci­a­tion of men­tal health is very use­ful” says Bassili.

Ayan­na Seale is a 33-year-old UTSC stu­dent cur­rent­ly enrolled in the under­grad­u­ate men­tal health pro­gram.  Build­ing on her degree in men­tal health stud­ies, Sealey hopes to do her master’s in per­for­mance psy­chol­o­gy and to even­tu­al­ly work as a per­for­mance psy­chol­o­gist help­ing ath­letes, musi­cians and actors.   “I’m a per­for­mance artist myself,” says Sealey, “so I know how dif­fi­cult and men­tal­ly-tax­ing per­form­ing can be.”

UTSC’s lead­ing-edge pro­gram resumes in Sep­tem­ber and will con­tin­ue as Canada’s only under­grad­u­ate pro­gram in men­tal health stud­ies.

“Address­ing men­tal health issues and dis­pelling social stig­ma sur­round­ing men­tal health is an impor­tant pri­or­i­ty. As a Uni­ver­si­ty I think we’re lucky we can be at the fore­front of such impor­tant work,” says Bassili.


For more infor­ma­tion, please con­tact:

Michael Kennedy
Media Rela­tions Assis­tant

John Bassili
Depart­ment Chair of Psy­chol­o­gy