Consultations for the The Presidential and Provostial Task Force on Student Mental Health are winding down. The Task Force has released a draft summary of themes and the community can provide feedback until today! At its core, the Task Force is aiming to improve mental health services at U of T. I had the opportunity to learn more about this initiative from Kate Welsh of The Innovation Hub. Kate has been one of the driving forces behind consultations and events that engaged students on the U of T St. George campus.
What is The Innovation Hub?
The Innovation Hub is a part of Student Life at U of T and uses student-centered design thinking to propose solutions to challenges on campus. Basically that means The Innovation Hub seeks to “design with students rather than for students.”
Tell me more about the Presidential and Provostial Task Force on Student Mental Health?
This spring, President Gertler introduced an action plan to move toward a campus where all student can thrive. The action plan consisted of four parts: to bring together a presidential and provostial task force, to consult students to understand how students must be supported, engage with partners with U of T that can help students struggling with mental illness, and to incite action from the provincial government to increase mental health resources.
The Task Force consists of a group of students, faculty and staff. They have been reviewing existing resources and brainstorming new strategies to bolster mental health services and resources for students at all three U of T campuses.
What has been the most difficult part of this work?
Spreading awareness about the Task Force to students has been challenging. U of T is an enormous institution with thousands of students. To spread awareness of events that were held by the Task Force meant leveraging partnerships with students and student organizations to promote consultations.
What were the Phases of the Task Force?
Phase 1 included an online consultation form. The Task Force invited input from all U of T community members to gather the key questions that warranted exploration during Phase 2.
The Task Force is currently in Phase 3 of the Outreach and Consultation Plan. They shared a Draft Summary of Themes online and spread awareness in public spaces such as Sid Smith, at Bahen, Medical Science Building, UTSC, and UTM. The Task Force reported back on their findings from Phases 1 and 2 back to the U of T community. This provided a further opportunity for the community to give feedback and recommendations on the emerging themes of the Task Force.
After this phase, Task Force members will compile all stories and themes they have obtained, and write a report of recommendations that will be presented to the U of T President and Provost.
At the end of the day, what does The Task Force hope to accomplish?
The overall goal of the Task Force is to better understand the lived experiences of students’ mental health on campus and to co-create solutions with students that align with the types of services and programs they need.
For information: https://www.provost.utoronto.ca/committees/task-force-on-student-mental-health/#section_1