Ontario Increases Mental Health Funding to Support Students at Conestoga College, Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of WaterlooPublished on February 24, 2021
Funding will be used to expand access to critical services during COVID-19
February 24, 2021
WATERLOO REGION– The Ontario government is providing a total of $1,282,525 to help increase access to mental health and addiction services for students at Conestoga College, Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo. The funding will strengthen community partnerships, increase the number of mental health workers and programs, and immediately expand access for students to the provincial mental health and addiction system during COVID-19.
“Even during the best of times, college and university can be challenging for many students”, said Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris and Kitchener South- Hespeler MPP Amy Fee. “This additional funding will help our local institutions expand the necessary supports and services their students need for their mental health and wellbeing”.
This funding is part of the province’s total investment of $26.25 million for mental health supports for postsecondary students in 2020-21. It will support more services for students on-campus and virtually and can also be used to address the needs of vulnerable and diverse groups, such as Indigenous students, LGBTQ students and students with disabilities.
“We know that college and university can be a stressful time for our students and that the COVID-19 outbreak has only increased the impact on their mental health,” said Minister of Colleges and Universities Ross Romano. “That is why we are investing more in mental health services to better meet student needs—creating the best conditions possible for students to achieve their goals.”
Providing mental health supports for postsecondary students is part of Ontario’s Roadmap to Wellness, the government’s plan to build a connected and comprehensive mental health and addiction system that ensures children, youth, and adults in Ontario receive appropriate services where and when they need them.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created a myriad of new challenges for post-secondary students,” said John Tibbits, President, Conestoga College. “We greatly appreciate the province’s investment in enhanced access to mental health services that will support students as they prepare for successful futures through these difficult and uncertain times.”
“The pandemic has heightened the need to ensure that Laurier’s students have ample supports to help them navigate this stressful time. We welcome this investment from the Government of Ontario to assist Laurier in our ongoing work to support the mental health and well-being of our students,” said Deborah MacLatchy, President and Vice-Chancellor, Wilfrid Laurier University.
“The province’s increased investment in mental health supports is a welcome contribution to the University and its students during these challenging and disruptive times. It will provide additional resources for students across the post-secondary sector, enabling them to succeed academically, professionally and personally,” said Feridun Hamdullahpur, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Waterloo.
- To ensure postsecondary students have access to the mental health services and supports they need, the government is providing Conestoga College with $366,766, Wilfrid Laurier University with $415,599 and the University of Waterloo with $500,160.
- Over the last several years the mental health needs of postsecondary students have increased dramatically in Ontario. According to the last National College Health Assessment survey of the Canadian student population (2019):
- 52 per cent of students reported feeling depressed, compared to 46 per cent in 2016.
- 69 per cent experienced anxiety.
- 12 per cent of Canada’s students had considered suicide, compared to 14 per cent in 2016.
- 8 per cent of students reported having attempted suicide.
- In October 2020, the Ontario government announced $19.25 million in mental health supports for postsecondary students.
- In February 2021, the Ontario government announced an additional $7 million in funding to help increase access to mental health and addiction services for postsecondary students during COVID-19.
- The government’s total investment of $26.25 million for mental health supports for postsecondary students in 2020-21 represents an increase of $10.25 million over last year.
- The funding supports a variety of initiatives, including Good2Talk/Allo j’écoute, Ontario's bilingual mental health helpline which provides professional counselling and information and referrals to all students via telephone, text and live chat (new this year). It is available to all postsecondary students 24/7, 365 days a year.