On Jan. 25, U of G hosted numerous initiatives during Bell “Let’s Talk Day” to raise awareness of mental health initiatives on campus. “Let’s Talk” reminds us of the importance of connecting with each other and maintaining our focus on mental health issues each and every day.

Despite a range of mental health supports and services offered on campus, and despite the outstanding work of our dedicated staff and students, we — like many communities — continue to experience challenges and loss. This has been a difficult time for us and I want to share my heartfelt sorrow and sympathy over the recent deaths of several of our campus community members.

I also wish to highlight a number of existing campus support services and initiatives available to help all community members.

Students may use afternoon walk-in services at Counselling Services, located on the third floor of the University Centre, or at Health Services in the Powell Building. No appointment is needed, and all students are seen and triaged.

Students at high risk are supported on campus or referred to partners off campus, and employees have access to the University employee assistance program. Extended hours include the Student Support Network, which offers drop-in peer support Monday to Friday, noon to 10 p.m. After-hours and phone support are offered through Here 24/7 (1-844-437-3247) and Good2Talk (1-866-925-5454).

Along with the Canadian Mental Health Association of Waterloo Wellington Dufferin, Student Wellness Services will offer three drop-in emotional support sessions for students on Jan. 27, Jan. 30 and Feb. 1. All sessions will take place 3-5 p.m. in UC 390.

U of G has a long-standing commitment to students’ well-being. Like other communities and institutions, the University has seen significant growth in the demand for mental health support services. In order to address a range of mental health issues, U of G continues to develop its programs and planning in education, prevention, intervention and support with the implementation of a new mental health strategy.

Among our continued investments in mental health resources, the University has devoted additional funding to early warning systems, enhanced mental health programming, new health and wellness programs and mental health training. We have added four staff positions in the last two years specifically to help support students.

As part of our ongoing efforts to address the evolving needs of our community, the Office of Student Affairs will hold a town hall meeting to enable U of G’s mental health committee to discuss its program and receive input from community members.

As an educational institution, we can also help to better understand the broad context of mental illness in youth, and help to find solutions to benefit our campus and wider society. I plan to engage our community, including inviting key experts to campus, to discuss mental health and well-being, and to help further improve the University’s support programs.

At the University of Guelph, we are committed to providing needed support for today and tomorrow, and to further integrating our campus services with other community supports.

Guelph is known for its sense of community. For any community, there is no greater struggle than to lose one of its own. I urge members of our community to support each other and to reach out for additional support.

If you are experiencing difficulty – or know someone else in difficulty – please speak to friends, colleagues or any of the support services mentioned here.

Together we will continue to support and strengthen our community.

Thank you.

Franco Vaccarino,
President and Vice-Chancellor