Ontario Government Provides Mental Health Support for Post-Secondary Students

(January 16, 2015 - Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities)

Ontario is investing $9 million annually to provide new services and supports to post-secondary students at Ontario's colleges and universities, including up to $6 million each year for the Mental Health Innovation Fund. The funding is part of Ontario's comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy. The following projects have been approved in the third round of projects for the Mental Health Innovation Fund:

Mental Health and Wellness Outcomes for Aboriginal Learners

The Aboriginal Resource Centre and Counselling Services at the University of Guelph are working together to build a flexible and culturally sensitive 'bridge' that integrates aspects of Aboriginal wisdom and world views, and appropriate western-based therapeutic approaches to mental health. The project will help to more effectively engage and support Aboriginal learners with identified mental health challenges, substance abuse issues and those transitioning to post-secondary education. The program is offered in partnership with Six Nations Polytechnic and Mohawk College.

Campus Mental Health Supports

This project will help identify and work to overcome the barriers Aboriginal students face when accessing mental health services on campus. The project is based on consultations with campus partners that found that Aboriginal students at Nipissing University may have difficulty accessing the mental health supports available through Student Counselling Services.

Summer Aboriginal Student Transition Program

Trent University, in partnership with Fleming College, Hiawatha First Nation, Curve Lake First Nation and Niijkiwendidaa Anishnaabekwewag Services Circle will create a pilot program for an on-campus summer program to help students transition from high school to post-secondary education. Biishkaa (Ojibway for "rise up") will take place during the three weeks before the start of university/college classes. At-risk Aboriginal students from Trent University and Fleming College entering their second year will have the opportunity to create mutually supportive bonds. The program also will include indigenous knowledge, skills-building, individual success planning and elders' teaching.

Harm-Reduction Strategies Program

Algonquin College, in partnership with Rideauwood Addictions and Family Services, the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health and the Tungasuvvingat Inuit Community Centre are working together to develop and implement an awareness, education and harm-reduction strategy focused on drug use and abuse. The strategy also features specialized targeted support for First Nations, Métis and Inuit students studying at Algonquin College.

Case-Management Approach to Transitions and Addictions on Campus

Georgian College, in partnership with Centennial College, Canadian Mental Health Association, Simcoe County District School Board, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Scarborough Centre for Healthy Communities, Malvern Family Resource Centre,  Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care and the Simcoe Muskoka Transition Age Youth System of Support will design and implement a case-management service approach for students with mental health and addictions during their entire lifespan as a student beginning from Grade 12. Building on a previous Mental Health Innovation Fund project, Centennial's focus will be to improve access to community-based services and build professional training, support and collaboration. The college will work with a wide range of groups, including high school counsellors, social workers and community providers to increase community collaborations and extend the circle of care outside the campus.

Encouraging Positive Coping and Adapting Behaviours

McMaster University, in partnership with Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, Alternatives for Youth, St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton Youth Wellness Clinic, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and Hamilton Family Health Team will implement a program to help students reduce unhelpful behaviours and improve positive coping and adaptive behaviours. The program is made up of three parts: a website that encourages students to evaluate their own behaviours, counselling services for students, and providing students with a link to campus and community counselling options.

Expand a Treatment Program for Transitional Age Youth

Ryerson University, in partnership with George Brown College, OCAD University, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and LOFT Community Services will expand the Evening Treatment Program for Transitional Age Youth (a project run by LOFT Community Services) to post-secondary schools in Toronto. This will allow young adults to access supports and treatments for substance use and addictions on campus. This project will also build the capacity for campus health providers to screen, address, and refer students with substance use and addictions appropriately.

Online Curriculum for Students with Mental Health Issues

This project will develop an interactive online curriculum that can be implemented in any part of the province, including remote locations, ensuring that students with mental health issues have access to transition programs wherever they live. Grade 12 students with mental health issues will be able to complete this program with the support of their school support network. Cambrian College is carrying out this project in partnership with Queen's University, National Educational Association of Disabled Students, Limestone District School Board, Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board, Sudbury Catholic School Board, Laurentian University, Frontenac Community Mental Health and Addiction Services, Canadian Mental Health Association and The Psychology Foundation of Canada.

Online Tool for Young Adults with Mental Health Issues

George Brown College, in partnership with Seneca College, Queen's University, Stella's Place, Toronto District School Board and Gerstein Crisis Centre are developing iConnect, a web-based platform and mobile application. iConnect will be an online tool that will open doors for connections, assessments, peer support and recovery services for young adults with mental health concerns.  It will be available to current and potential post-secondary students and will connect them with online with peer mentors, counsellors and other resources.

Summer Transition Program for Students with Mental Health Issues

University of Guelph, in partnership with Conestoga College, Upper Grand District School Board and Wellington Catholic District School Board will work together to identify factors needed to develop and implement a successful program that helps students transition from high school to post-secondary education. During the summer of 2015, Conestoga College and the University of Guelph will develop a summer transition program that includes a residential program targeted at students who will be attending either institution.

Training Youth to Tackle the Transition to Post-secondary Education

Lambton College, in partnership with King's University College at Western University will share expertise and knowledge to create "From Tension to Triumph", a program to help youth transition from high school. This innovative peer-to-peer mental health support program will link post-secondary students with senior high school students.

Intervention Program to Help High School Students Transition to Post-secondary Education

University of Toronto Scarborough, in partnership with the Toronto District School Board and the Shoniker Clinic-Rouge Valley Health System will develop an intervention program to help students with mental health challenges cope with the transition from high school to a post-secondary institution. The project will include training high school teachers, educating students' parents, assessing first-year students during orientation and providing online resources for students, teachers and parents.

Two existing mental health projects are also receiving funding to help continue supporting successful projects that had been previously funded under the Mental Health Innovation Fund:

Mental Health Hub

Sault College, in partnership with Algoma University, Sault Area Hospital, CMHA Algoma, Algoma District and Huron Superior Catholic District School Boards and St. John's Ambulance will continue to build on the operations of the existing Mental Health Hub. The model will be enhanced by providing cultural competency training to staff, including Aboriginal services, expanding services for students with substance use issues and those in residence, developing transition programming for students in secondary school, and developing a service model framework to be shared with other postsecondary institutions.

Safer and Accepting Campuses for Two Spirit Students

EGALE Canada Human Rights Trust will build on its Safer and Accepting Campuses Program, which was created as an educational resource for students, professional residence life staff and professional support staff.  The project will focus on providing educational resources to both LGBTQ2S and Aboriginal post-secondary students and campus mental health staff to help develop a more inclusive program for Two Spirit students. The educational tools will be designed to encourage the commitment of the participants to create 'Safer Spaces' that are relevant and inclusive to Two Spirit Students. The aim of these spaces will be to encourage positive mental health amongst Two Spirit students as an attempt to reduce poor mental health and suicide.

Media Contacts:

    May Nazar
    Communications Branch, Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities

    Belinda Bien
    Minister's Office, Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities

    Public inquiries:
    416-325-2929 or
    TTY: 1-800-268-7095