Community Issues

Students Create Mental Health Advocacy Group in 24 Hours

When their school's administration ignored their requests for change, they sprang into action.


While it can sometimes take months to speak with a mental health professional at the University of Toronto Health and Wellness Centre, it only took 24 hours for students Loizza Aquino (pictured below, R) and Ashwini Selvakumaran (pictured below, L) to form a new advocacy group that will help bring awareness to mental health issues on campus.

(Source: @ONTConsmrRights )

The group was formed after a student took his life at the computer science building on the U of T campus last week. But it wasn't the first time something like this happened. According to the student union, there have been four confirmed deaths by suicide on the St. George campus since last June.

Last spring, students staged a sit-in outside of the school president's office to call for action and condemn the administration's refusal to recognize the deaths as suicides to protect the school's reputation.

"I think our main goal right now is to start a conversation on campus, across all three of them, and also to eliminate and eradicate the ... kind of culture that we have around being a student at the University of Toronto," Aquino told CBS News Canada .

The group, called UofThrive, is holding their first event on Thursday in honor of World Mental Health Day with speakers, performances and panels all centered around topics of mental health and the need for change. Tickets to the event sold out quickly.

(Source: @uofthrive )

When the school announced they would be installing temporary barriers around the computer science building to improve safety, students said that it simply wasn't enough.

Along with shorter wait times for counseling, students have asked for better access to mental health resources. They've also raised concerns about a recent, school-mandated leave-policy that lets the administration place students on a mandatory leave of absence if they feel they pose a risk of harm to themselves or others.

"We need change. We need a student death policy, we need more counseling available to students, we need an active task force that actually listens to the students," third-year student Hannah Turcotte said.

UofThrive hopes to change all that by creating a new support community led by students, for students. And with leaders like Aquino and Selvakumaran at the wheel, it looks like they're going to get the services they need, and a whole lot more.

(Source: @ezpoetryy )

If you're feeling depressed or emotionally overwhelmed, don't hesitate to reach out using the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline :

1-800-273-8255

The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.

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