U of G launches new mental health support pilot project

More mental health support is now available at the University of Guelph as a new pilot program launched Thursday.

The new program will staff after hours clinicians within a mobile mental health team.

"We anticipate to connect with students when they're struggling with their mental health or in a crisis situation or having thoughts of suicide or even planning, having intent of acting on suicide," said Irina Petrovic, crisis response coordinator at the university.

The pilot project between the University of Guelph and the Canadian Mental Health Association will provide on-campus support to students and staff four days a week, including weekends.

"It's hard to know what the volume will be like initially but we will be available to all students on campus," said Jeff Stanlick, director of services of the Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo-Wellington. "Throughout the pandemic we anticipate that the needs have grown."

Those in crisis or in need of mental health support can call the campus safety office where they will be connected to the integrated mobile police and crisis team.

"The best possible provision of service," said Alison Burnett, the university's director of student wellness. "An individual who is experiencing a mental health crisis needs a mental health clinician to work with to help understand what's happening with that person."

Burnett said the team is partly funding by the university through the Ministry of Health.

"It's a completely free service for all students and all staff members," Petrovic said.

University officials said the pilot program will run until the spring. It was launched after community feedback called for additional mental health support.