York launches Mental Health Strategy

Lesley Beagrie, Eric Windeler, Kate and Dan (Jack.org youth ambassadors), Stephanie Francis and Suzanne Killick
From left: Lesley Beagrie, Eric Windeler, Kate and Dan (Jack.org youth ambassadors), Stephanie Francis and Suzanne Killick

An event marking the launch of York’s mental health strategy outlined the priorities of the plan, and gave the wider community an opportunity to hear details and respond.

Held on Oct. 18 in Founders College Assembly Hall, the event was well-attended and gave members of the Mental Health Steering committee a platform to highlight the work done since York approved the development of a strategy in May of 2013.

Rhonda Lenton
Rhonda Lenton

“A very important piece of the mental health strategy is really about creating greater awareness and really a greater understanding, these are absolutely essential for a success approach and to properly support our community,” said Vice-President Academic and Provost Rhonda Lenton.

Lenton recognized York for being proactive, and told guests the plan – which addresses the needs of students, staff and faculty – reflects three foundational pillars: health and wellness promotion; facilitation of care and support; and collaboration and discussion.

Mental Health steering committee co-chairs – Lesley Beagrie, Suzanne Killick and Stephanie Francis – also took an opportunity to address the crowd, and informed that the strategy will focus on four priorities over the next three to five years: leadership; planning and promotion; campus engagement; and service delivery.

Killick said students, staff and faculty could offer input and share ideas with the committee by signing up to join roundtable discussions on the strategy.

crowdThe program also included a keynote presentation by Jack.org, a national network of young leaders who are transforming the way people think about mental health. Led by Eric Windeler, and created in memory of his late son Jack, the organization is the only one in Canada to have young ambassadors advocating for youth mental health.

The organization’s vision of “No more silence” is spread through Jack Talks, summits and its chapter work at secondary and post-secondary schools in Canada. Windeler also announced that York University now has a chapter, becoming one of more than 100 chapters across the nation.

Guests had an opportunity to hear from two youth ambassadors of Jack.org, who shared information, statistics and personal stories in a creative and engaging presentation.

good-2-talkOrganizers then opened up the floor for a question period, and heard from students, staff and faculty who posed questions on everything from terminology to strategies to use in the office.

Several students inquired about what the strategic plan will do to address challenges in the current system, with respect to lengthy wait times and in-depth administrative requirements to access counselling services on campus.

Francis explained that York’s Mental Health website will include the actions the University plans to take, which will address how it plans to work with counselling services, better promote existing services and making those resources more accessible to everyone who needs them.

dogIn addition to the presentation, guests were able to find out more from tables set up representing: Active Minds; Employee Health and Well-Being; Community Safety; Personal Counselling Services; the colleges; CUPE; YUSA; Centre for Human Rights; Enable York; Jack.org – York chapter; York psychology clinic; Reach Out; Health Education and Promotion; and a sign-up table for those interested in joining the advisory roundtables.

To cap off the event, St. John Ambulance Therapy dogs were brought in to deliver some puppy love.