BY AARON CRECES
The Ontario government has announced that they will provide $27 million in funding over a three-year period for additional mental health services and aids to post-secondary students across the province. The plan, announced by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities on Oct. 4, will improve access to mental health facilities and help students identify untreated mental health issues.
This plan also includes a provincewide telephone service known as Good2 Talk, which students can call 24 hours a day every day, to talk about their worries regarding student life, health or mental health concerns.
Conestoga College is set to receive $122,000 of this funding over a two-year period to develop a project which will engage, screen and assist students with autism spectrum disorder and other mental health problems.
“Over the past several years, all colleges and universities, including Conestoga, have seen an increase in enrolment of students with autism spectrum disorder,” said Shawna Bernard, co-ordinator and counsellor at Conestoga College’s Counselling Services in an email.
Bernard said one in four people will experience mental health issues in their lifetime and that the government’s recent announcement is good news.
“In addition to students with autism spectrum disorder, we also recognize that depression and anxiety can be quite common in our student population … So it is important that we talk about these issues to reduce the stigma and also to know that help is available.”
The province is also setting a Youth Suicide Prevention Plan in motion to help college and university students. This plan will provide the training and funding and will educate communities on how to come together to prevent youth suicide.
“Research indicates that suicide can be the second leading cause of death for youth, and Canadian Mental Health Association reports one in seven Canadians have seriously considered suicide,” Bernard said.
“It is important that we talk about these issues to reduce the stigma and also to know that help is available.”
Students who feel that they need to talk to someone about their mental health and well-being can visit Counselling Services in Rm. 1A101 at the Doon campus, or visit www.conestogac.on.ca/counselling-services/. You can also call Good2 Talk at 1-866-925-5454.