On Friday February 1st, iStudents for Mental Health Co-Chairs Marta & Robyn, and Inforum Outreach Librarian Kathleen Scheaffer, gave a presentation at the Ontario Library Association (OLA) Super Conference on student mental health initiatives. The talk was titled Student Mental Health: Promotion, Advocacy, & Education.
The goal of our session was to describe the work that iStudents for Mental Health have been doing to promote student mental health and wellness within our faculty, advocate for campus-wide student mental health supports, and pursue mental health education opportunities for our Master of Information colleagues.
In our presentation, we focused on our relationships with community partners as well as the considerations that went into planning. As it was a library conference, we paid special attention to the roles of librarians and library students, and the library’s potential as a community hub.
Below you can find the handout for our session, featuring a summary of the contents of our session and a list of resources. Many of the resources are available on campus.
As well, here is the link to the presentation slides for our session.
For the full event description, see this link to the OLA Super Conference website.
You can read about the Mental Health & Wellness iTea and the Five Ways to Wellbeing, our participation in collaborative student action protesting the University Mandated Leave of Absence Policy (UMLAP or MLAP), and our Mental Health First Aid training scholarship.*
The questions and conversation at the end of the session was engaging. For instance, one librarian wanted to know how to get the ball rolling when several faculty members feel that the library is not the place to promote student mental health. Our suggestion was to start with something that is both visible and gentle, like iRelax in the Inforum.
Though U of T has not reached perfection in its handling of student mental health (cough, cough … please read this open letter by the U of T Faculty Association (UTFA) regarding the UMLAP), we left the OLA feeling grateful for the many community partners we have on campus. They include our student council MISC, our library the Inforum, our dean Wendy Duff and administrators in the Faculty of Information, and Grad Connections.
We want to thank Kathleen Scheaffer for presenting with us, the OLA for hosting us, and the students and librarians who attended our session. Student mental health is important and we thank all of you for doing what you can where you are to support it.
*We were excited to announce the renewal of our Mental Health First Aid training scholarship with funding in 2019 from the Faculty of Information. Many thanks to Dean Wendy Duff for supporting this initiatives, and to MISC for helping us get this program off the ground in 2018.