u-Ting Teo coordinates Ryerson’s health and wellness initiatives.

Photo courtesy of Johanna Vandermaas

Mental health initiatives get $12M

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By Alex Downham

Ryerson is receiving part of a $12 million provincial fund this year meant to address mental health issues among Ontario post-secondary students.

The Mental Health Innovation Fund, established in 2012, will continue to sponsor campus projects aiding students with mental health problems. Student Health and Wellness Director Su-Ting Teo said the latest instalment of the fund could help drive an array of resources “all over campus.”

The funds can potentially be put towards on-campus counselling, peer support groups, sensitivity training for Ryerson staff or academic accommodations for students with mental health issues.

The Ontario Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities (MTCU) decides which projects to fund and how much they get through a selection committee.

The amount of funding being given to Ryerson and to which projects has not yet been determined.

“It’s a competition for institutions across Ontario to have projects funded,” Teo said.

Since 2012, the innovation fund has sponsored Ryerson resources that close gaps for international students and aid students hospitalized for mental health issues.

Teo appreciates the financial aid but says it does not provide longterm solutions to the problems Ryerson’s mental health facilities face.

“It’s hard to get a handle on what all is happening on campus,” Teo said.

A 2013 Ryerson Mental Health Advisory Committee report lists problems with the university’s mental health resources. Listed issues include “a lack of consistency in message” among resources that are difficult to find and navigate.

To solve this issue, Ryerson is launching ThoughtSpot in partnership with OCAD, U of T, The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and ConnexOntario, with funding from the MTCU.

ThoughtSpot is a mental wellbeing site providing information on Toronto and GTA mental health resources, planned to launch Nov. 10 during Mental Well-Being week.

Teo said sustainability is also a problem for many Ryerson mental health resources, adding that “campuses still have to find money to support those practices on their own.” The Mental Health Innovation Fund largely supports pilot innovative projects over ongoing initiatives.

As a result, the growing demand for counselling at Ryerson has forced many students to wait months for help.

Visit ryerson.ca/counselling for a full list of mental health services offered at Ryerson.

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