(This story was updated Friday, May 28th as more details emerged)
Student mental health and well-being at Canadore College and Nipissing University will be benefiting from a provincial funding announcement.
Vic Fedeli, Nipissing MPP, announced over $375,000 for a new and innovative mental health project called Collaborating through COVID-19.
“Canadore was one of eight post-secondary institutions that were successful in securing funding for their projects and initiatives,” he says. “This project is going to increase availability of mental health services for students at the college. It will build a campus-wide mental health approach to support students facing mental health impacts due to COVID-19.”
George Burton, President of Canadore College says students will be able to reach out virtually for resources specific to their needs.
“It could be peer-to-peer contact, it could be contact with a professional, it could be anything from managing a home situation or academic situation,” he says.
Burton says the pandemic has had an impact.
“Existing services are taxed with supporting our students for the past year and a half during the pandemic so we’ll be able to bolster those and bring on additional resources to provide that support to our students,” he says.
The project is starting up immediately and will enhance existing services.
Mental health partners in the community will be also be involved with the project.
Canadore will lead:
- Centralized case management software, linking all student services with academic programs to provide a seamless support system. The new portal will connect triage, self-help information, psycho-educational workshops, e-support, group and individual therapy, specialized services and crisis service/acute case management;
- A Mental Health Nurse Practitioner in the Campus Health Services Centre available to both Canadore and Nipissing students. The nurse will provide specialized mental health triage and collect information to inform psychiatric consultation needs; and
- A virtual evening drop-in/walk-in pilot program. This initiative has the potential to reduce hospital emergency department visits by providing a psychotherapist or social worker for walk-in or virtual consultations with students.
Nipissing University will lead:
- The development of referral pathways referring students, including those studying remotely, to community student services;
- A cross-institutional peer support model, increasing outreach to the Nipissing University and Canadore College student communities. Trained peer supporters will meet with students (days and evenings), supporting them in seeking the appropriate services. The peer supporters will be trained through a collaboration with the Nipissing Mental Health and Housing and Support Services or the Ontario Peer Development Initiative (OPDI) and will connect regularly with a supervisor; and
- An opportunity to access psychiatric consultation for staff working with students experiencing languishing mental health to help triage services in a timelier fashion.
The funding is part of Ontario’s Roadmap to Wellness. Officials say it will help ensure students receive the support they need when and where they need it.