Editor’s note: This article discusses suicide.
The University of Toronto announced Friday that it is partnering with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) to improve mental health services for students.
The university will be taking immediate action toward harmonizing mental health services across all three of its campuses, and to boost funding for mental health and wellness, the institution says.
The initiatives outlined above are part of U of T’s response to the final report of the Presidential and Provostial Task Force on Student Mental Health, which is made up of staff and students.
The team analyzed four key areas: student mental health services and delivery at the university; the coordination of services among the three campuses; potential expansion of community partnerships; and physical spaces in which mental health services are offered at the university.
“We heard the call for change throughout our consultations,” reads the report.
That call, it would appear, has been asking to be heard for some time.
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Last March, students of the university gathered at King’s College Circle to silently protest the school’s “inaction” following three then-recent deaths by suicide on campus. Weeks later, discussions with students revealed the belief that the institution was in the midst of a mental health crisis.
A fourth student died by suicide in September, and the school promptly installed temporary safety barriers at the Bahen Centre for Information Technology at its St. George campus.
“The safety and well-being of our students are our top priorities. We’ve listened to concerns about the building and are putting in place measures that will improve safety,” Sandy Welsh, vice-provost, students, said at the time.
The university expressed condolences online as well, and faced responses from students who felt there wasn’t enough being done.
The “incident” was a suicide. Call it was it was. This is the 2nd suicide to occur at Bahen within a year and UofT has done nothing to improve their mental health resources.
— Ally (@allylunetta) March 18, 2019
The school said it had been working with the building’s architects since spring of 2018 to design permanent changes that will enhance safety at The Bahen Centre, which was closed following the student’s death.
Installation of long-term changes was expected to begin in the fall.
The aforementioned report submitted by the task force offered 21 recommendations for the improvement and evolution of on-campus mental health and wellness services. All of them have reportedly been adopted by the university.
If you or anyone you know is in distress, you can speak to:
- Good 2 Talk Student Helpline 1-866-925-5454. Professional counselling, information and referrals for mental health, addictions and well-being.
- Gerstein Crisis Centre 416-929-5200
- Distress Centres of Greater Toronto 416-408-HELP (4357)
- The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health at 250 College Street
- Anishnawbe Health Toronto Mental Health Crisis Line 416-360-0486
- My SSP for U of T Students 1-844-451-9700. Immediate counselling support is available in 35 languages and ongoing support in 146 languages.
- Appointed faculty and staff have access to the Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP), offered through Homewood Health, online and by phone at 1-800-663-1142
The following are some of the services available to students on all three campuses:
- St. George campus: Health and Wellness Centre (416-978-8030), located at Koffler Student Services
- U of T Scarborough: Health & Wellness Centre 416-287-7065
- U of T Mississauga: Health & Counselling Centre 905-828-5255