partnering on student
mental health
Providing the foundation for a secure, healthy and fulfilled life on campus.

The Issue

Providing effective support for mental health challenges is one of the most pressing issues facing Ontario students on university and college campuses today. Government, educators, health-care providers and community organizations need to pull together to adopt a comprehensive approach that ensures students have access to support and services that address the spectrum of student mental health needs.

The Background

  • The number of students on college and university campuses with identified mental health disabilities has more than doubled over the past five years.
  • Three-quarter of mental health disorders first appear among people before the age of 25. Universities have also seen an increase in the number of students coping with anxiety, depression and suicide attempts.
  • A 2017 survey of on-campus student health service usage determined the second most used billing code by on-campus physicians was directly related to mental health.
  • Many students already rely on the many services universities offer, but offering the right mental health supports won’t happen through a campus-centric approach only – universities cannot meet this challenge alone.
  • Student mental health is not just a post-secondary concern; it is a societal issue with ripple effects on everything from health care, to the workplace and the economy. This is why it requires a “whole of community” approach that includes government, health-care providers, post-secondary institutions, student associations and community agencies.
In It Together: Taking Action on Student Mental Health

Ontario’s colleges, universities and student groups have developed a whole-of-community strategy on post-secondary student mental health that begins in kindergarten and continues through high school, postsecondary life and adulthood. The strategy, titled In It Together, is based on three key principles to help guide and strengthen the delivery of mental health supports and services across the province.
Click on the icon below for the full strategy, and also take a look at Foundations for a list of mental health activities at Ontario’s universities.


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What We Heard
Learn more about what Ontarians had to say about the future of our health care.

Key Facts about Mental Health

What Ontario Universities
Are Doing

Ontario’s universities are committed to the well-being of our students. That’s why we are committed to:


Addressing mental health on campus – We offer an extensive suite of mental health services to respond to student needs, undertake mental health research and integrate mental health strategies into our governance models to ensure we’re able to respond and adapt to mental health challenges.

Partnering on mental health –We have partnered with colleges, students and mental health associations to develop an action plan on post-secondary mental health to help guide and support the delivery of mental health services across Ontario. We also co-founded the Centre for Innovation on Campus Mental Health, whose mission is to enhance the capacity of Ontario universities and colleges to support student mental health and well-being.

How Government Can Help
  • Support a whole community approach to mental health

    Incorporate the recommendations put forth in In It Together: Taking Action on Student Mental Health, including:

    • Clearly defined roles and responsibilities for government ministries, postsecondary institutions, student associations, health care and community organizations;
    • Ensuring that all postsecondary students, regardless of geographic location, can access gender and culturally-sensitive mental health services and supports that are timely, effective and flexible, and provided in a safe and comfortable environment – all at no cost to students whether they live on or off campus; and
    • Emphasizing prevention and harm reduction as important elements of mental health priorities.
The Future of Ontario
By taking a whole of community approach to mental health, Ontario can close the gaps in primary mental health care and ensure that students thrive throughout their studies and graduate ready to fulfill their potential.
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Learn more about how universities are helping promote diverse communities in Ontario.


Foundations: Mental Health and Well-Being Initiatives

The activities in this report provide a foundation for future work in the area of mental health and wellness at Ontario's universities.

In It Together

The College Student Alliance, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, Colleges Ontario and the Council of Ontario Universities have come together to develop an action plan on post-secondary student mental health.

Deepening Our Relationship

In 2016, COU reached out to its membership to gather information on activities that support campus Indigenization.

read the report

In our report, you will find a comprehensive summary of what we heard from Ontarians and how Ontario's universities are working across all sectors to help students thrive, support our communities, and drive a growing, dynamic province.