The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) is supportive of today’s announcement by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities of $12 million for two additional years of funding for the Mental Health Innovation Fund. First created in 2012 by the provincial government, the Mental Health Innovation aims to support innovative approaches to on-campus mental health service delivery and encourages knowledge sharing and best practices between institutions, mental health care providers, and the government.
“The typical age of onset of many disorders is 18-24, meaning that students will often have their first encounter with mental illness while attending college or university,” said Rodrigo Narro-Perez, OUSA Steering Committee Member and Vice-President Education of the McMaster Students Union (MSU). “With undergraduates often living away from home and far from their traditional support networks, it’s critical that universities and the Province ensure that students have access to front-line mental health care and other support services on campus.”
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term care has noted that every $1 spent on early mental health treatment translates into a saving of $30 in lost productivity and social costs. Currently, it is believed that the cost of mental health and addiction to Ontario is $39 billion annually, with 74 per cent of these costs associated with productivity losses.
“OUSA first proposed targeted government funding for innovative on-campus mental health programming in early 2012 and our students were very appreciative when the Ministry adopted our proposal and launched the Fund later that year,” said Jen Carter, OUSA President and Vice-President External of the University Students’ Council (USC) of Western University. “Students are appreciative of Minister Reza Moridi’s renewed commitment to addressing mental health concerns among our student population and we look forward to working with him and our sector partners in the coming months on this issue.”