March 3, 2020
TORONTO, ON -
Today, the Honourable Christine Elliott, Minister of Health and Deputy Premier, announced A Roadmap to Wellness: A plan to build Ontario’s mental health and addictions system. This mental health strategy sets out to build a connected mental health and addictions system and focuses on four pillars: improving quality, expanding existing services, implementing innovative solutions, and improving access.
The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA), is pleased to see the government take positive steps toward prioritizing the mental health and well-being of Ontarians. However, OUSA also recognizes that to properly support the needs of Ontarians, there needs to be intentional and dedicated funding to support this strategy.
Students in Ontario have consistently expressed the need to better address the mental health crisis on post-secondary campuses. The onset of most mental illness and substance dependency typically occurs during adolescence and early adulthood, and post-secondary students are particularly vulnerable as they face additional pressures associated with post-secondary education.
That is why OUSA, alongside the College Student Alliance (CSA), the Council of Ontario Universities (COU), and Colleges Ontario (CO), have been calling on the government to take a “whole of community” approach to ensure access to baseline support through a core set of community-based mental health and addiction services, in addition to timely, effective, culturally relevant and flexible on-campus mental health care.
“We’re encouraged to see the government emphasizing the importance of mental health in Ontario,” said Catherine Dunne, OUSA President and Vice-President at the University Students’ Council at Western University. “Moving forward, we hope that the government includes the unique needs of students and takes steps to ensure coordination between post-secondary institutions and community partners.”
OUSA is hopeful that the provincial government will continue to support mental health in Ontario and that there will be significant targeted investments to support integrated, accessible, community-based student mental health care in the upcoming Ontario budget.
To see read OUSA’s joint report on mental health titled, In It Together 2020: Promoting Foundations for Mental Wellness in Campus Communities, click here. To see OUSA’s full policy on Student Health and Wellness, click here.
If you or someone you know is struggling, there’s help available. Good2Talk provides post-secondary students with professional counselling services and referrals, either over the phone or via text. It’s free and available 24/7/365 — call 1-866-925-5454 toll-free or text GOOD2TALKON to 686868.
You can also check out Big White Wall, an online peer-to-peer support network that offers anonymous discussion boards, self-assessments, resources, and trained professionals to keep the community safe. It’s free and available 24/7/365.
- 30 -
OUSA represents the interests of 150,000 professional and undergraduate, full-time and part-time university students at eight student associations across Ontario. Our vision is for an accessible, affordable, accountable, and high quality post-secondary education in Ontario.