TORONTO, May 16 – The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) is releasing a submission to the Ontario government and universities addressing the pressing health care needs of students pursuing higher education in Ontario. Student Health: Bringing Healthy Change to Ontario Universities outlines student mental and physical wellbeing as essential to students’ capacity to reach their full learning potential.
“Student health care is an essential service,” said Sean Madden, President of OUSA, “not just for those students utilizing the services, but also for the broader community. Ensuring the service is meeting the physical and mental health needs of students must be a top priority.”
Evidence from OUSA’s latest student survey found that 70 per cent of Ontario undergraduate students accessed campus health services by their fourth year of studies. The recommendations in Student Health aim to ensure that health services on campuses meet the needs of students both in terms of accessibility and quality.
Addressed in this submission are a range of recommendations to the Ontario government around student health ancillary fees, physician compensation, the integration of care, front-line mental health care, anti-stigma initiatives, and services for marginalized students. Student health services represent the only primary care model that requires its patients to pay out-of-pocket for overhead and capital costs.
Also among the recommendations in Student Health is a significant focus on the mental health of university and college students. Recent estimates of the economic costs of mental health and addiction are pegged at billion annually, with productivity losses accounting for 74 per cent of the costs.
“By being proactive with students’ mental health, we actually lessen the need for their healthcare later in life,” continued Madden. “For every dollar we put towards mental health now, we save down the line in social costs and productivity losses.”
OUSA is looking forward to bringing Student Health to tomorrow’s Focus on Mental Health conference, sponsored by Colleges Ontario, the College Student Alliance, the Council of Ontario Universities and OUSA. The full report is available online.