The School of Graduate Studies (SGS) and the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU) collaborated to create a Graduate Wellness Portal to provide information on the resources and services available for graduate students.
Through this portal, graduate students can find mental health services, academic support, and resources to assist with supervisor relationships. The website also includes a directory of U of T and Toronto community resources, student-supervisor resources including a supervision tip sheet, and a list of frequently asked questions.
Luc De Nil, Acting Dean of Graduate Studies, said that the SGS and UTGSU are hoping that the portal will allow students to “avoid situations where stress has impacted them so much that they run into difficulties with their academic work because we all know that early intervention, early support is the best way to support our students.”
UTGSU Executive Sophie McGibbon-Gardner said that the UTGSU feels that “this is a good resource to help graduate students navigate these issues, especially in the wake of the mandated leave of absence policy.”
The recent passing of the controversial university-mandated leave of absence policy allows U of T to place a student on a non-punitive leave if their mental health poses a risk to themselves or others, or if they are unable“to fulfill the essential activities required to pursue their program.” The policy was passed in June to much backlash from students.
The portal was started as a way to solve the lack of cohesion that existed, explained De Nil, saying that “students know the resources are there [and] that resources are available to them, but they do not quite know how to find them or how to start accessing them or who to contact.”
With U of T’s growing number of international students, the portal also includes information on off-campus services that offer support in multiple languages.
Some of the resources available are SGS Wellness Counsellors, a series of Coping Skills and Supervision Workshops, and G2G Peer Advisors at the Graduate Conflict Resolution Centre.
UTGSU members can also assist other graduate students with advice, information, and representation when experiencing academic and/or administrative difficulties, including problems with supervisors, departments, or the university, if students would prefer to speak with other graduate students.
The SGS will also be looking to have accessibility advisors available specifically for graduate students, according to De Nil.