Robarts Library; photo source: Superkül

Navigating support services for student wellness

By Maya Honda-Granirer, Staff Writer

Amidst the academic rigors and personal challenges of university life, access to mental health resources is paramount to students’ well-being. This being said, there is not nearly enough support, advocacy, and resources for students who are struggling at U of T. Rallying the university to do more for its students is an ongoing and critical effort. Furthermore, many of the sources of mental health support that do exist are often poorly advertised and seldom talked about. So, in an effort to combat the stigma and shed light on the help that does exist, here are six mental health resources for U of T students that you may not be familiar with.

Navi

Navi is a chat-based virtual assistant designed to be a free, fast, and anonymous way of locating mental health resources at U of T. It is not a counseling or therapy tool in itself, but can be a great guide to finding the right people, places, and resources that fit your needs. Navi also provides basic information about U of T, including admissions, housing, financial aid, careers, and getting involved. Navi’s interface looks like a chat box – like one you may use to text on social media. It is easy to use and is the ideal search assistant, especially if you don’t have time to probe U of T’s vast and often confusing array of websites.

Finding a Therapist Workshop

U of T offers a free workshop on Finding a Therapist, which you can register for through CLNx or on the Student Life website. Facilitated by trained Wellness Navigation Advisors, this workshop is a chance to learn about mental health resources available to you find a therapist that meets your needs and preferences, utilize insurance coverage, and start therapy in a welcoming and judgment-free environment. The workshop runs for two hours in person. The first hour consists of receiving information and tips from the Wellness Navigation Advisors. The second, which you can choose to take part in or not, involves getting support and taking the first steps of finding and contacting potential therapists. 

The Finding a Therapist workshop runs several times each semester. The upcoming session takes place on Monday, April 29th, from 10 am to 12 pm. Keep an eye out on CLNx and Student Life for more dates in future semesters. 

Health & Wellness Peer Support

U of T’s Health & Wellness offers a peer support program that allows you to chat with a trained U of T student in a supportive, accessible, and confidential space – either online or in person. Talking with someone close in age, who can relate to the stresses and struggles of being a student, can be a source of comfort and relief. 

One-on-one support is offered on a drop-in basis. Online peer support is available every Wednesday to Friday, 11 am to 4 pm. In-person peer support is available at Robarts Library, room 1152, Wednesday to Friday from 11 am to 4 pm; Engineering and Computer Science Library, room 2402, Wednesdays from 11 am to 4 pm; and Student Commons, room 246, Thursdays from 11 am to 4 pm. The Student Life website has an Outlook Calendar with all the available dates and times along with more details about joining the online peer support sessions. 

U of T Telus Health Student Support

U of T offers culturally competent mental health and counseling services to its students through U of T Telus Health Student Support, formerly known as U of T My SSP. Accessible 24/7 by calling 1-844-451-9700 (or 001-416-380-6578 outside of North America), this service provides confidential support in real-time or through appointments, addressing school, health, or general life concerns at no charge. This service is available in 146 languages for ongoing support and immediate assistance in 35 languages over the phone, as well as in simplified Chinese, English, French, and Spanish via chat. Wherever you are, whenever, U of T Telus Health Student Support can offer a safe and confidential helping hand through phone, chat, or web options. 

​​Managing Exam & Test Stress Workshop

Exams can be an immense source of stress and anxiety for many students. Luckily, Student Life hosts a virtual, 1-hour workshop on Managing Exam & Test Stress. In this workshop led by a licensed clinician, you can learn about expert study tips, strategies for managing test anxiety, and what you can do to set yourself up for success on the days leading up to an exam. Additionally, you can have any test and stress-related questions answered by a professional. 

The sessions take place on Zoom and registration is on CLNx. Although the most recent workshop date has passed, they are offered every semester, so it is best to check CLNx and Student Life in future semesters for more dates. 

OISE Psychology Clinic

The OISE Psychology Clinic is a reliable resource to address any emotional, social, interpersonal and academic concerns. It provides confidential and holistic assessment and intervention services to adolescents, and assessment and counseling services to adults. These services are typically provided by graduate students doing their clinical training under the supervision of faculty and staff psychologists. A variety of evidence-based therapies are offered, including cognitive-behaviour therapy, relational therapy, and play therapy. These treatment plans may be short-term or long-term, depending on your needs. You can contact the clinic at 416-978-0654 if you have any questions or would like to book an appointment. 

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It is important to recognize that the mental health programs and services outlined above are just a fraction of the resources available to U of T students. To discover the full extent of support options, students are encouraged to explore U of T’s Student Life and Health and Wellness websites. Mental health is undeniably as crucial as physical health, and it’s imperative that every student has access to the care they need. Despite the University’s efforts, U of T, like many institutions, still has a lot of room for improvement in mental health support. Therefore, it’s vital to continue spreading awareness, dismantling stigma, and advocating for comprehensive mental health services to ensure that no student is left behind.

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