Task Force on Student Mental Health announces members

Consultations with students, staff to begin in July

The University of Toronto has revealed the members of the Presidential & Provostial Task Force on Student Mental Health. Its establishment was announced last semester in response to growing mental health concerns on campus.

The task force was established on March 28 as one of four key elements laid out by U of T President Meric Gertler to address the problem of mental health. Since then, hundreds of nominees have come forward to serve on this task force — a committee which may have a lasting impact on how the university handles mental health issues for years to come.

Chaired by Professor Trevor Young, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, the task force is made up of four students, three faculty members, three administrative staff members, and two senior assessors. Their work begins immediately in reaching out and consulting the U of T community on how to improve student mental health and wellness.

The task force members come from a variety of different faculties and campuses, with both undergraduate and graduate students being represented. Among the members are people who have previously volunteered, researched, or worked professionally on mental health issues, with some having personally faced challenges with mental health in the past.

The students on the task force are Master of Social Work student Egag Egag from the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, Jayson Jeyakanthan from UTM, PhD candidate Corey McAuliffe from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, and Aurora Nowicki from the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering.

The first phase of the task force’s operations involves in-person consultations and collecting online form submissions starting in July and continuing through the fall semester. This is in accordance with the Presidential & Provostial Task Force on Student Mental Health Outreach and Engagement Plan, which outlines the group’s proposed operations from now until November 15, 2019. This draft plan is currently under consultation and feedback can be submitted online until June 21, 2019.

The Presidential & Provostial Task Force on Student Mental Health is set to present their findings and recommendations to President Gertler and Vice-President & Provost Cheryl Regehr by December 2019.

If you or someone you know is in distress, you can call:

  • Canada Suicide Prevention Service phone available 24/7 at 1-833-456-4566
  • Good 2 Talk Student Helpline at 1-866-925-5454
  • Ontario Mental Health Helpline at 1-866-531-2600
  • Gerstein Centre Crisis Line at 416-929-5200
  • U of T Health & Wellness Centre at 416-978-8030

Warning signs of suicide include:

  • Talking about wanting to die
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
  • Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swing

The more of these signs a person shows, the greater the risk. If you suspect someone you know may be contemplating suicide, you should talk to them about it, according to the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.

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