Published November 19, 2021 at 4:53 pm
The Ontario Government is kicking in nearly $350,000 to increase mental health supports for students at Durham College and Ontario Tech University, part of an $8.7 million investment for the province’s post-secondary institutions announced earlier this month.
This additional funding will support postsecondary students and help to address the increased need for mental health services due to the COVID‐19 pandemic. It also includes new funding for the nine Indigenous Institutes in Ontario, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, and l’Université de l’Ontario français.
This investment builds on the Government’s funding to address mental health and addictions challenges from the 2021 Budget, for a total of $28.5 million in 2021–22 mental health supports at Ontario postsecondary institutions.
“Ontario’s publicly-assisted colleges, universities and Indigenous Institutes play an important role in supporting the mental health needs of Ontario’s postsecondary students, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities. “Ontario’s additional investment will help to promote campus wellness and create the right conditions for our students to succeed in their studies.”
Lorne Coe, MPP for Whitby and Chief Government Whip, agreed, noting mental health needs of college and university students have increased dramatically over the last several years. “This investment in the mental health of local students continues to ensure we’re supporting Durham women and men in their studies and future career goals, because when they succeed, the Region of Durham succeeds.”
The COVID‐19 pandemic has “increased the pressures” on postsecondary mental health
services, chimed in Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance and Pickering-Uxbridge MPP. “Our Government is committed to protecting our progress against the COVID-19 pandemic and providing mental health supports for those who need them.”
The Province’s investments in mental health are part of the Roadmap to Wellness, the Government’s plan to build a connected and comprehensive mental health and addictions system that ensures children, youth, and adults in Ontario receive appropriate services where and when they need them.
According to the last National College Health Assessment survey of the Canadian student population (which as taken in 2019, prior to the pandemic):
- 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.
“For the past 20 months, postsecondary students in Ontario’s colleges and universities have been forced to adapt to the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to significant impacts on their mental health,” said Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “This investment will help to protect our progress by ensuring our postsecondary students have more and faster access to the highest quality mental health and addictions supports that meet their unique needs, in a setting where they can be fully supported.”