Welcome to the consultation on the Mental Health and Wellness Strategic Framework and thank you for helping us improve our University community!

Message from the University Advisor, Mental Health and Wellness

Dear University of Ottawa community members,

You may recall that in June 2020, following a campus-wide listening exercise, the President’s Advisory Committee on Mental Health and Wellness Report provided 12 concrete recommendations for changes to improve the mental health and well-being of all members of our community.

Since this pivotal moment, the University of Ottawa has taken important strides in implementing the recommendations using a collaborative, interdisciplinary and intersectoral approach involving students, staff, faculty and external partners.

As the University of Ottawa strives to ensure the sustainability of our efforts, we are introducing the University of Ottawa Wellness and Mental Health Strategic Framework that reflects uOttawa’s holistic approach to mental health and wellness. uOttawa commits to becoming a caring and compassionate university; one in which care, respect and compassion are embedded at all levels of the University and in our interactions with one other. In addition, as we commit to continue to provide access to appropriate services, we will aim at strengthening prevention programs to foster an inclusive and enabling environment, one in which every member of our university community feels supported and encouraged.

The success of this framework depends on the active participation of all members of the uOttawa community. The University of Ottawa is holding a consultation process to gather input from the community. We want to hear your views on the Framework.

Please review our proposed Framework and submit your feedback online by Wednesday, March 15, 2023.

We look forward to hearing from you. Your comments and suggestions will be instrumental in enabling us to finalize the Framework to best support the mental health and wellness needs of all in our community.

Elizabeth Kristjansson
University Advisor, Mental Health and Wellness

Elizabeth Kristjansson
Elizabeth Kristjansson

Our framework

This framework reflects uOttawa’s holistic approach to mental health and wellness, one of creating an environment that promotes care and compassion and supports the mental health and wellness of our entire university community.  It outlines ways in which we can care for ourselves and for one another, both individually and collectively.

The framework is anchored in the collaborative approach to wellness set out in the Okanagan Charter, a global health initiative that calls on postsecondary institutions to commit to embedding health across all aspects of campus culture, including administration, operations and academics, and take the lead in compassionate actions that promote well-being, both locally and globally.

The University is proud to be a signatory of the charter and to commit to living by its values and its four charter commitments through this framework.

Our framework is designed to be sustainable, flexible and inclusive of diverse ways of knowing about and experiencing mental health and wellness. An intersectional approach to issues related to equity, diversity, and inclusion must be adopted in applying the framework principles.

The resilience of our university community will be strengthened by considering systemic root causes of many mental health and wellness challenges, including poverty, discrimination, racism, the academic culture, and the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns.  We must also respond to changing needs and emerging knowledge.

Solutions cannot be found if we work in silos. With an overarching focus on coordination and collaboration, this framework is dynamic and adaptive.  It supports cross-sector initiatives, improvement and innovation, while enabling our university community to adapt to individual contexts and needs with care and compassion.

Students, professors, support staff and leaders are responsible for promoting and modelling compassion. All members of our university community should consider the principles outlined here in our actions, practices, decisions and interactions.

Our Guiding Principles

The framework is structured around four guiding principles.

Our Priority Areas

Our priority areas build on current activities and initiatives stemming from the 12 recommendations of the  President’s Advisory Committee on Mental Health and Wellness Final Report. They also build on many current programs, services and partnerships. They take into account elements from existing models and frameworks and reflect best practices in comprehensive approaches to students’, professors’ and support staff’s mental health and wellness.

The University will support the mental health and wellness of students, professors and support staff by focusing on seven priority areas. The priority areas shift our focus toward prevention, early intervention and self-care as the front line of support. They aim to strengthen coordination of programs, services and initiatives to build compassion and wellness skills, as well as strengthen resilience among our university community.



Men with a laptop on top of a mountain at moonlight

Share your feedback

Please complete the form to share your comments and suggestions on the uOttawa Mental Health and Wellness Strategic Framework. Your feedback on the guiding principles and priority areas as well as general comments on the framework are welcomed.
Complete the form

Next steps

Understanding that advancing a caring and compassionate university community is the individual and collective responsibility of our community, the Provost and Vice-President, Academic Affairs will continue to champion mental health and wellness at the University of Ottawa.

A strong and permanent governance model will be crucial to ensuring the advancement of mental health and wellness. Recognizing that some elements of the framework intersect with other key institutional documents, focus will be directed towards strengthening integration with them to ensure a holistic approach to wellness (e.g. Transformation 2030 , the Indigenous Action Plan,  the Final Report Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence, the Internationalization Strategy, the Sustainability Plan, the Accessibility Plan).

Building on the cooperative approach established by the University Advisor on Mental health and Wellness, the implementation of the Framework will be done through collaboration; ensuring coordination and efficiency regarding challenges and opportunities; and engagement and sharing of views and expertise. Key to the governance structure will be the presence of leaders from the most implicated sectors, including Student Affairs, Human Resources and Faculty Relations. Active and strong engagement from students, professors, support staff and external communities as co-creators of change will also be an essential component.

Achieving our goals of becoming a caring and compassionate university community requires a coordinated implementation through specific actions to support the priority focus areas. uOttawa commits to keeping our university community informed on actions taken and progress made on an annual basis. Periodic evaluation of the University’s progress will be accomplished through quantitative and qualitative methods, including surveys and focus groups. In addition, we will foster dialogue with the university community and subject matter experts to ensure our efforts are relevant, effective and connected.

The Framework will be reviewed at least every five years to ensure the Framework’s continued relevancy in advancing a caring and compassionate environment that empowers our university community to thrive.