U of T rolled out a new mental health support app in September called Navi. The new service comes alongside other recent mental health resources for students and community members, which include My Student Support Program (My SSP) and general online services offered through the Health & Wellness Centre.
U of T released a new artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbot called Navi — both short for navigator and used to denote kind acts in some cultures. The tool can help users locate resources on mental health and wellness, provide advice and resources to help with academic success, and guide users to personal counselling services.
Navi offers a text message-style chat to answer questions about mental health resources through AI. It can be accessed from anywhere 24 hours a day, seven days a week. While the chat conversations are logged to help improve the AI, no personally identifying information is collected.
The technology comes from IBM and makes U of T the first postsecondary institution to use the IBM Watson Assistant technology for mental health care.
Responses from Navi were tailored to U of T specifically, providing more streamlined access to mental health information and resources, which are also available on the U of T Health and Wellness website.
Sandy Welsh, Vice-Provost Students, said about the service, “We want the members of our university community to know that support is always close at hand. With this tool, finding the appropriate resource is fast, user-friendly, and completely anonymous.”
My SSP allows users to call or chat with a counsellor at any time or place, and is meant to offer assistance on a variety of issues, from mental health to personal problems. It is also available for immediate support in 35 languages.
Online services and resources
U of T has multiple online services and programs aimed at mental health and well-being, which can be accessed on the Student Life Health & Wellness website.
These include workshops on managing exam anxiety and building positive mental health during COVID-19, as well as services like peer support that can help connect students with trained student peers for personal, one-on-one, and confidential support.
Students can also book an appointment with a mental health clinician, who will provide appropriate help based on the unique needs of each student. College registrars’ offices can also provide guidance and referrals.
Students who would like to learn how to support others can also access a 30-minute online training workshop called Identify, Assist, Refer, which prepares them with the skills and information they need to be there for individuals experiencing mental health challenges.