Ontario funds mental health support for postsecondary students

May 10, 2024 | News, Provincial News

The Ontario government announced $5 million in funding for postsecondary student mental health. The May 9 announcement comes in the wake of Mental Health Week.

The official Ontario statement said the funding will support postsecondary students from underserved communities to access mental health support and addiction services.

The Minister of Colleges and Universities, Jill Dunlop said the initiative is designed to overcome gaps in mental health care on campuses across Ontario.

“This funding will ensure students in underserved communities can receive the high-quality mental health care they need, directly from their school,” Dunlop said.

Institutions in northeastern, eastern, and south-central Ontario will receive the funding.

Ontario said the investment will help bring more mental health professionals, including nurse practitioners, social workers, psychotherapists, traditional counsellors, and healers.

Sylvia Jones, the minister of health, said the government is ensuring students can conveniently connect to mental health care.

“Our government is taking action to ensure postsecondary students across Ontario can conveniently connect to the mental health care they need, where and when they need it,” she said.

Under this program, universities and colleges will collaborate with local non-profit organizations to develop specific mental health projects to address the needs of their students.

The 10 beneficiary institutions are across Ontario. Under the program, Algoma University will offer in-school support instead of outside referrals.

Algonquin College will address the rising demand for psychiatric services and reduce the dropout rate caused by long wait times.

College Boréal will provide culturally appropriate mental health services for Francophone students, many of whom are international, the statement read.

Niagara College will expand primary care and addiction services, focusing on supporting Indigenous students.

Other participating institutions are Nipissing University, Iohahiio Akwesasne Education and Training Institute, Shingwauk Teaching Lodge and Six Nations Polytechnic.

Michael Tibollo, the associate minister of mental health and addictions, said the funding aligns with Ontario’s Roadmap to Wellness strategy.

“Students across Ontario deserve reliable and accessible services to support their wellbeing, resilience, and learning,” Tibollo said in Ontario’s official statement.

The Council of Ontario Universities welcomed the investment. According to its official statement, it’s a challenge to provide mental health support beyond educational campuses.

“Ontario needs a whole-of-community approach to mental health,” the council’s official statement said.

The government had previously funded $23 million to fund mental health support for post-secondary students.