After our work last semester with the Presidential and Provostial Task Force on Student Mental Health, we are thrilled to see their recently released Final Report and the accompanying Administrative Response. As readers may remember, our Mental Health team led eleven feedback sessions for the Task Force. Our six initial events invited students to discuss their mental health experiences and informed the draft themes. A further five events collected feedback on those themes.
Through this work, we contributed student leadership to the Task Force’s consultation. The Innovation Hub has long believed that we get deeper answers about student experiences when peers talk to each other. As Kate Welsh, our Mental Health Team Lead, said in her opening blog post, “Peers relate to each other more openly and advocate for each other more strongly, and […] peer-based support both provides comfort and leads to change.”
Our team of student leaders heard the stories of many fellow students. We are honoured that you entrusted them to us and allowed us to share your feelings with the Task Force. We believe their final recommendations get to the heart of what many of you were saying: that we need “a significant shift in our culture towards a ‘Culture of Caring.’”
Culture change is hard, but it is transformative. The public consultations have started this process by bringing conversations about mental health into the open across UofT, and inviting perspectives and reflection from all players: individual students, student groups, staff, administration, healthcare providers, and more. The administration’s action items build on this beginning by offering concrete steps, including the Healthy Labs Initiative and the Centre for Graduate Mentorship and Supervision.
We are excited to see these plans unfold, and pleased that conversations with students played such a large part in shaping them.
To track the university’s progress on its mental health commitments, visit the Divison of the Vice-President and Provost’s page on Student Mental Health.