A plan to support wellness at uOttawa

Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Students seen from behind sitting in a cafe.

Whether you are a student, professor, or employee, take a moment to think about wellness — both your own and the wellness of those around you. By taking care of ourselves and of others, we can reach our goals, both individually and collectively.

The University is proud of campus initiatives such as Wellness Week, but wellness should be top-of-mind more than once a year. This is why President Jacques Frémont has announced a series of new initiatives that boost our current efforts to prevent mental illness and support the University community.

“I would like to emphasize my personal commitment to wellness at the University,” said President Frémont at an event during January’s Wellness Week. “It is an essential requirement for each of us to fully actualize ourselves and to achieve our goals as members of this community. Promoting wellness is as vital to our educational mission as are books and classrooms.”

President Frémont has asked Provost and Vice-President, Academic Affairs Jill Scott to champion this cause. She will lead a newly created Advisory Committee on Mental Health. The Provost will also undertake a listening tour of the campus to hear from members of the uOttawa community.

“We all know that it has been a challenging year for our community, especially with the loss of members of our student population. Mental health is a societal issue and we are still a long way from having all the answers. Notwithstanding all the work that we’ve done as a university, there is more to do and this is why we’re starting a presidential committee”, said Jill Scott.

“This listening and benchmarking exercise will enable us to better identify the needs of our community and available innovative options to address them.”

The committee is expected to report back to the President by the end of May in order to get prepared for the new academic year.


2019 Mental Health and Wellness Action Report now online

Efforts to build on our current wellness initiatives are ongoing. The Board of Governors approved the final report of the Campus Action Group on Monday, January 27.

This report, which is the result of 18 months of effort, contains concrete recommendations to improve the health and wellness of students, faculty, and staff members. It was created in the spirit of President Frémont’s directive to create a campus culture that is focused on health and wellness.


Recent health and wellness improvements on campus

Efforts to provide the best possible mental health and wellness support to our community are ongoing. Here are a few of the commitments and initiatives undertaken with this in mind:

  • Significantly increase training to raise staff member awareness of various cultural issues
  • Hold a series of public meetings to tackle the topics of discrimination and racism at uOttawa
  • Hire six new mental health counsellors to eliminate wait times for students who need psychological support
  • Hire an additional health and accommodation advisor for professors and support staff
  • Ensure that mental health support is offered to students 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week
  • Translate more guidelines on how to respond when someone is in distress, whether it’s you or someone else. We recently translated these documents into six languages, in addition to English and French, and more translations are on the way.
  • We recently launched Therapy Assistance Online (TAO), which provides online and mobile tools to help students and staff overcome both day-to-day struggles, such as anxiety and depression, and specific problems,  like relationship issues or addiction.
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