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Improving Mental Health Support for Ontario's Postsecondary Students

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Improving Mental Health Support for Ontario's Postsecondary Students

The Government of Ontario announced, Open Minds, Healthy Minds, a comprehensive mental health and addictions strategy in June 2011. The strategy is the province's plan to support mental health, from childhood to old age, and to provide the integrated services and supports that Ontarians need if they experience a mental illness or addiction.

Directly, or indirectly, mental illness and addictions will affect one in five Ontarians. Young people are particularly vulnerable to mental health issues, in fact, 70 per cent of mental health and addiction problems begin with our young people.

The Mental Health Innovation Fund is part of Ontario's mental health strategy and supports new and innovative approaches to help postsecondary students and those transitioning to college or university access the mental health services they need.

The first call for proposals was issued in September 2012, and to date, 20 projects have received funding. There were 47 proposals received and 10 projects were funded. The second call for proposals was launched in April 2013 and 41 proposals were submitted. There were a further 10 successful projects announced on October 4, 2013.

The goals of the Mental Health Innovation Fund are:

  • To identify and address gaps in mental health and addictions services for Ontario postsecondary students.
  • To enable and promote knowledge sharing and best practices across Ontario's postsecondary community.
  • To facilitate partnerships with other mental health care and addictions services providers within local Ontario communities. Partnerships focused on First Nation and Métis students, school boards and other organizations involved in supporting students with mental health issues in transition from secondary school to postsecondary education, as well as agencies and community organizations involved in harm reduction strategies involving drug and alcohol abuse by postsecondary students are all being encouraged.
  • To support innovative approaches to mental health and addictions service delivery for postsecondary students and particularly those transitioning from secondary to postsecondary studies.
  • To support improved outcomes for postsecondary students with mental health and/or addictions issues and particularly those in transition from secondary to postsecondary studies.      

Organizations eligible to participate in the Mental Health Innovation Fund are:

  • Publicly assisted universities and colleges of applied arts and technology.
  • Colleges Ontario.
  • Council of Ontario Universities.
  • Aboriginal Institutes
  • Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance.
  • College Student Alliance.
  • Canadian Federation of Students -- Ontario.
  • Other community partners with an interest in postsecondary mental health and addictions issues in Ontario and Aboriginal community organizations, working in partnership with a lead organization from the list above.

 Other Postsecondary Mental Health Supports and Activities

  • Postsecondary Mental Health Helpline

Ontario also continues to support Good2Talk, a bilingual, province-wide service that operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The helpline serves about 1,000 students a month. The service is delivered by Kids Help Phone, ConnexOntario, 211Ontario, the Ontario Centre for Excellence in Child and Youth Mental Health with the participation of postsecondary institutions. By August 31, 2014, Good2Talk//Allo J'Écoute had responded to 11,998 calls (57 per cent from university students, 22 per cent from college students).

  • Mental Health and Addictions Summits

In October 2010, Ontario hosted a summit on mental health and addictions in postsecondary education for more than 250 postsecondary community partners. The summit allowed university and college administrators to increase their mutual understanding of mental health issues and to share best practices. The Council of Ontario Universities and Colleges Ontario continued the discussion by organizing the subsequent Focus on Mental Health Summit on May 17, 2012.

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