President's Advisory Committee on Mental Health and Wellness

Tulips in front of Tabaret Hall
Mental health and wellness

In January 2020, President Jacques Frémont announced a series of new initiatives to support the mental health of University of Ottawa students and community members. One of these initiatives was the creation of the President’s Advisory Committee on Mental Health and Wellness.

Message from the Chair

Mental health and wellness are a critical, complex, and challenging issue, most especially for students, but also for the faculty and staff that teach and support them. At the University of Ottawa, we have seen the demand for mental health services grow significantly over the last decade. We have responded by putting into place a range of programs and initiatives to support those in need.

Much work remains to be done, however. Progress will require ownership on every level: from students, professors, staff, and – most crucially – from our leadership. I was honoured to be asked by President Frémont and Provost and Vice-President, Academic Affairs, Jill Scott, to Chair this group. The President’s Advisory Committee represents a cross-section of our community, from undergraduate and graduate students, to full- and part-time professors, to staff and mental health professionals. Constituted at the end of February 2020, the committee first met on March 11, 2020, a few days before the COVID-19 crisis hit Canada, and the University moved almost all of our operations online.

The Advisory Committee had planned to hold a series of town halls during the winter and spring. Given the current circumstances, these events have been postponed until local public health authorities tell us that we can once again meet in person with our community. In the meantime, the Committee is determined to continue its work. We are exploring other options to engage with you, and to hear from you in the coming months.

Based on the feedback the Committee received at the Town Hall on February 27, together with the date yielded from the online consultation that accompanied that event, we are forging ahead with an analysis of that data as well as an environmental scan, with a view to identifying the gaps in our services and resources. We hope to provide the President with an interim report in May 2020, with the caveat that our recommendations may be supplemented or altered by the results of our listening tour, which we will undertake in the Fall.

As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve around the world, I want to remind you to take care of yourself, and take care of those around you. We are all in this together. Know that, while you may not be on campus, you can continue to use the online support that the University provides. I look forward to seeing you soon, and continuing the discussion about how we improve mental health and wellness on campus.

Kevin Kee

Dean, Faculty of Arts
Chair of the President’s Advisory Committee on Mental Health and Wellness

Find immediate support

If you are in distress or in a crisis, there are several resources available (by phone or online)
on the Mental Health and Wellness website.

For emergencies on campus: 613-562-5411.
For emergencies off-campus: 9-1-1.

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Terms of reference

Mandate

The President’s Advisory Committee on Mental Health and Wellness (the Advisory Committee) will:

  1. Undertake a thorough and comprehensive listening exercise to hear the views of students, professors, and personnel, to gain a deeper understanding of the mental health challenges faced by the University of Ottawa community, and a sense of the opportunities and barriers within the present suite of available services and resources;
  2. Conduct an environmental scan of best practices among Canadian postsecondary institutions;
  3. Produce a report based on the two exercises above, identifying gaps in our services and recommending other measures. This report will align with the findings and recommendations of the Campus Action Group on Mental Health.

Reporting

The Advisory Committee will produce an interim report on its activities to the President in May 2020.

A final report will communicate findings at the completion of the work of the Advisory Committee.

Membership

The Advisory Committee shall consist of members who are subject matter experts and/or persons with an interest in mental health and wellness.

The Advisory Committee will be composed of the following members:

  • Chair;
  • Two full-time professors;
  • One part-time professor;
  • Two students (one undergraduate student, one graduate student);
  • Two members of the support staff.

And the following resource persons:

  • Rachelle Clark, Director, Wellness and Recreation Sector, University of Ottawa;
  • Lise Griffith, Director, Health and Wellness, Human Resources
  • Erika Hansen, Manager, Planning, Office of the Provost and Vice-President, Academic Affairs

Meetings

The Advisory Committee will begin its work in March 2020 and will continue until its final report has been submitted to the President. Because of the short timelines, it is understood that not all members will be able to attend all meetings. Scheduling will be based on the largest number of available members.

Meetings will be held in both official languages.

Members

Chair

Kevin Kee

Dean
Faculty of Arts

Members

J. Craig Phillips

Vice-Dean, Governance
Faculty of Health Sciences

Sharon Whiting

Vice-Dean, Faculty Affairs
Faculty of Medicine

Éliane Boucher

Part-time professor
Faculty of Law, Civil Law Section

Joëlle Perron-Thibodeau

Undergraduate student
Faculty of Law, Civil Law Section

Maxime Lê

Graduate student
Faculty of arts, Department of Communication

Nathalie Saumure

Student Experience Lead
Faculty of Social Sciences

Jessica Simon

Equity and Wellness Counsellor
Faculty of Law, Common Law Section

Resource persons

Rachelle Clark

Director, Wellness and Recreation Sector
Student Life

Lise Griffith

Director, Health and Wellness
Human Resources

Erika Hansen

Manager, Planning
Office of the Provost and Vice-President, Academic Affairs

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