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Ontario dedicates $1M for student mental health hotline

Eli Ridder, News Reporter

The provincial government announced significant investment for the mental health of post-secondary students on Monday.

The Minister of Colleges and Universities said the ruling Progressive Conservatives is handing over $1 million to Kids Help Phone to expand its Good2Talk/Allo J’écoute services to reach more students across Ontario.

Good2Talk is a free bilingual mental health support service that provides professional counselling and resources for referrals. It is available at all times, 365 days a year.

“Helping all Ontario’s students maintain their mental health is critical to supporting student resilience and success,” said MCU at a press conference at Ryerson University.

“We know that over the last several years the mental health needs of postsecondary students have increased dramatically in Ontario,” he said in a prepared statement.

According to a report by the Toronto-based Centre for Addiction and Mental Health one in two Canadians have experienced mental illness by age 40.

Those aged 15 to 24 are more likely to experience mental illness or substance use disorders than any other age group, a Statistics Canada study found in 2013.

Archie Chhetri, a first-year Humber College student, said she agreed with the investment by Premier Doug Ford’s government.

“People tend to make suicidal moves all the time so if they can contact someone during that time and if that person can talk to them and save their life, then why not,” she said.

Suicide numbers for post-secondary students are hard to track as not every university and college posts statistics. However, suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth and young adults aged 15 to 34 years, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The National College Health Assessment of 2016 found 46 per cent of post-secondary students said they felt symptoms of depression compromising their ability to function, and 65 per cent reported overwhelming anxiety, an increase of 13 per cent over three years.

Kristy Lam, a Guelph-Humber Family and Community Social Services student, is skeptical about provincial spending on Good2Talk. (Eli Ridder)

Not all students are on board with the provincial government’s decision. University of Guelph-Humber student Kristy Lam said the money could be spent better.

I would prefer the government putting the money they want to put onto Good2Talk into the mental health services that universities [and] colleges provide to students”

Kristy Lam – Family and Community Social Services student

“I truly admire the government for putting money into mental health, but I personally believe it is not a good move because they already have a pretty good system on Good2Talk,” said Lam, a self-described mental health advocate.

“I would prefer the government putting the money they want to put onto Good2Talk into the mental health services that universities [and] colleges provide to students, such as off-campus therapy,” the second-year Family and Community Social Services student said.

At Humber College, counselling services are offered through the Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre on the second floor of the LRC building.

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