Improving mental health support for post-secondary students


Trent President Leo Groarke, President Tony Tilly and Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal



January 16th, 2015

Ontario is supporting a new project at Trent University that will improve student access to high-quality mental health services and help ensure that students in the Peterborough area get the right care, at the right time, in the right place.


The Trent University project, the Summer Aboriginal Student Transition Program, will be developed in partnership with Fleming College, Hiawatha First Nation, Curve Lake First Nation and Niijkiwendidaa Anishnaabekwewag Services Circle. The on-campus summer program will help students transition from high school to post-secondary education.


Biishkaa (Ojibway for “rise up”) will take place during the three weeks before the start of university and college classes. Through the program, at-risk Aboriginal students from Trent University and Fleming College (starting in the second year of the project), will have the opportunity to create mutually supportive relationships with each other and with upper-year Aboriginal student mentors. The program also will feature Indigenous knowledge, skills-building, individual success planning, Elders’ teaching, and living on the land.


The Summer Aboriginal Student Transition Program is one of twelve new projects receiving support from Ontario as part of the third round of the Mental Health Innovation Fund. These new projects focus on First Nation and Métis students, students with addiction issues, and students with mental health or addiction issues who are transitioning from secondary to
post-secondary studies.


Providing more mental health support at colleges and universities supports the government’s economic plan for Ontario. The four-part plan is building Ontario up by investing in people’s talents and skills, building new public infrastructure like roads and transit, creating a dynamic, supportive environment where business thrives and building a secure savings plan so everyone can afford to retire.



“Ensuring that our Aboriginal students have access to the support and tools they need to succeed is a priority for Fleming College. The transition from high school to post-secondary can be difficult to navigate. Creating an environment that nurtures and develops the whole student is vital to making that transition as smooth and as successful as possible. We are so pleased to collaborate with our postsecondary and community partners on this important project.”

– Dr. Tony Tilly, President, Fleming College


“It’s critical that students have access to a wide range of mental health services as they pursue a postsecondary education. Our Mental Health and Addictions Strategy is about providing faster, easier access to mental health services for young people who need them, and I’m thrilled that Trent University is receiving support for a new project that will benefit students in the Peterborough area for years to come.”

— The Honourable Jeff Leal, MPP


“Every college and university student in Ontario should have access to the support they need to enjoy good mental and physical health throughout their learning journey. Through the Mental Health Innovation Fund and other important projects, Ontario is working to ensure that every single student who needs help can turn to coordinated, high-quality mental health care.”

— Reza Moridi, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities


“Trent University prides itself on being a leader and innovator in Indigenous education so it is fitting that we are launching this important new program with our partners in the region. This grant will enable Trent to build a program focused on identifying individual and cultural strengths that lead to success and personal well-being for generations of future students.”

— Dr. Leo Groarke, President & Vice-Chancellor, Trent University



– Ontario is investing $310,915.00 over two years in the Summer Aboriginal Student Transition Program. ($123,405 in 2015-16 and $187,510 in 2016-17)
– This support for postsecondary students is part of the multi-year, $257 million Open Minds, Healthy Minds, Ontario’s comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy.
– Ontario invests $9 million annually to support improved mental health services for post-secondary students, including up to $6 million each year for the Mental Health Innovation Fund.
– The Mental Health Innovation Fund has now funded 32 projects at colleges and universities across Ontario through three separate calls for proposals.
– Previously funded projects include the training of mental health first aid instructors at Humber College, who now work at 19 colleges and universities across Ontario, as well as “By Students, For Students,” a University of Toronto project that helps students use technology to access mental health services on campus.



Matt Stoeckle
Jeff Leal, MPP’s Office