Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance releases policy paper: “Student Health and Wellness”

March 23rd, 2018

Toronto, ON A policy paper released by the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) this morning, focuses on the improvement of the health and wellness of students in Ontario. The paper was written, approved, and published by students with the purpose of providing recommendations for mental health, substance abuse and addictions, medical accommodations and OHIP+, sexual health and physical health.

“The approach to providing adequate mental health supports for students will require government, communities, and campuses to come together to support students mental health needs,” said Landon Tulk, student at Western University and Vice President of OUSA. “The success of students both on, and off campus, must be supported with a holistic, community approach to the health and wellness of every student; this includes the mental health, the physical health, and the wellness of every student.”

Concerns presented in the paper include the lack of supported and coordinated efforts going towards satisfying students’ mental health; the lack of exposure to the importance of mental wellness prior to post-secondary studies; limited information on the effects of ingesting cannabis with other substances simultaneously; limited data on substance consumption on post-secondary campuses; the financial burden medical accommodation practices place on students; and, that all undergraduate students do not have equal access to healthcare services provided under OHIP+.

This paper follows the release of In It Together: Taking Action on Student Mental Health, an action plan from the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, College Student Alliance, Council of Ontario Universities, and Colleges Ontario. The action plan outlines the post-secondary education sector’s need for a different approach to student mental health. To read the action plan, please click here.

"The health and wellness paper is important to students because it addresses things that tend to get swept under the rug during the transition from secondary to post-secondary education,” said Katie MacCabe, student at Brock University. “For example, campuses are struggling to keep up with the demand for mental health resources and students are suffering for it.  In order to fully support students in their academic studies, they need to be supported in living a healthy lifestyle and this paper helps build a framework as to how the government can make that can happen.”

Overarching recommendations in the paper include: the adoption of a ‘whole of community’ approach to addressing campus mental health; increased funding to off-campus addiction services; the elimination of medical documentation for academic accommodations; the completion of a system analysis of food insecurity and systems on university campuses; and, the expansion of OHIP+ to include all post-secondary students, regardless of age.

This paper was written by students from OUSA member associations and presented to the OUSA Spring General Assembly on March 11th for approval. To read the paper, please click here.

OUSA represents the interests of 150,000 professional and undergraduate, full-time and part-time university students at eight student associations a cross Ontario. Our vision is for an accessible, affordable, accountable, and high quality post-secondary education in Ontario. To achieve this vision we’ve come together to develop solutions to challenges facing higher education, build broad consensus for our policy options, and lobby government to implement them.

Deborah Lam                                                         

Operations & Communications Director

Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance

416-341-9948

communications@ousa.ca