Ontario Increases Mental Health Funding for Postsecondary StudentsPublished on October 06, 2020
Investment will increase access to more programs, community services and mental health workers
The Ontario government is investing $19.25 million into mental health supports for postsecondary students in 2020-21, an increase of $3.25 million over last year. This funding will help students by strengthening community partnerships and increasing the number of mental health workers and programs at colleges, universities and Indigenous Institutes.
Having mental health supports in place for when students need them most is a key part of helping students succeed, especially during this very difficult COVID period" said Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities. "This additional funding will equip our postsecondary partners with greater resources — creating the best conditions possible for students to achieve their desired goals."
In 2020-21, the ministry is investing in the following initiatives supporting student mental health:
- Good2Talk/Allo j'écoute ($5.16M) mental health helpline service for postsecondary students, available 24/7/365;
- Centre for Innovation in Campus Mental Health ($0.5M): knowledge exchange hub providing resources and access to expertise for the postsecondary sector;
- Mental Health Worker Grant ($4.45M) for front-line mental health service workers on campuses, annual ongoing support to 45 colleges and universities to offset the costs of hiring front-line, campus-based mental health workers;
- Mental Health Services Grant ($6M): annual support to 45 colleges and universities, for the development of programs and services as determined by the institution;
- Indigenous Institutes Mental Health Grant ($0.5M)support to the 9 Indigenous Institutes in Ontario for the provision of mental health services, staff, and needs assessment as needed;
- Get-A-head ($250,000) - the ministry is providing one-time funding to support the launch of a mental health online application.
The remainder of the $19.25M will support the development of partnerships and greater access to mental health resources.
"Our government is ensuring postsecondary students have the right mental health services and supports that they need during these unprecedented times," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "Targeted investments like this one, is another example of how we continue to build a comprehensive and connected mental health and addictions system, so every Ontarian feels supported so they can maintain their mental wellness."
Today's announcement is part of Ontario's Roadmap to Wellness, the government's new 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.
"As we move forward with Roadmap to Wellness, we will continue to listen and work with our partners across the mental health and addictions sector," said Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. "We are enhancing and strengthening the available supports, while exploring new and innovative services to ensure that every student in Ontario's colleges and universities can access the high-quality care they expect and deserve."
"Now more than ever, we must prioritize making mental health services accessible to all students. As the need in our community remains high, we must work together - educators, community service providers and government - to reduce the barriers that students face and provide a broad range of support options," said Anne Sado, President of George Brown College. "These investments directly benefit students at George Brown College and throughout Ontario, allowing more learners to get the support they need."
"We know that post-secondary students are already going through a time of major life transitions which may cause stress and anxiety, and with the global pandemic, many may feel their lives have been upended," said Katherine Hay, President and CEO, Kids Help Phone. "That is why we thank the Government of Ontario for putting the mental health and well-being of post-secondary students first by ensuring that Good2Talk's 24/7 confidential support services are always available by phone and text."
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.
- 2.8 per cent of students reported having attempted suicide.
- Good2Talk/Allo j’écoute is Ontario's bilingual mental health support service, providing professional counselling, information and referrals, and is available to all postsecondary students 24/7, 365 days a year.
- The Centre for Innovation in Campus Mental Health is a knowledge exchange hub providing resources and access to expertise for the postsecondary sector