‘Every single life is cherished’: uOttawa president addresses mental health crisis on campus
OTTAWA -- Following the death of the fifth student in a one-year period and disappearance of another, the University of Ottawa’s president and vice-chancellor made a public appeal Tuesday, pleading with students who are struggling with mental health issues to seek help.
“I know that at times this university can feel big and impersonal but I want you to know that in reality it is filled with kind and caring people,” Jacques Frémont said. “If you are struggling, if you feel you can no longer cope, please reach out to our counsellors. They care. Talk to them, please, please.”
Frémont said the university has made strides to try and meet the demand for mental health resources.
For months, many students have said there are not enough resources on-campus, citing a four to 10 month wait to see a counsellor as one example.
Last year students voted to increase their fees in an effort to cover the cost of more counselling services. An online petition called “No more student suicides” is also calling on the university to offer more mental health resources and funding.
Frémont said six new mental health counsellors have been hired to “help eliminate wait times for students in need of psychological support, as well as another health and wellness counselor to serve faculty and staff.”
He said there are also online tools to help students and staff cope with anxiety and depression.
Frémont also confirmed the missing 32-year-old man Gatineau Police have been searching for is a uOttawa student.
Police say Jonathan Blanchette was last seen on Thursday. He’s described as white, 6’1 with black hair, brown eyes and a beard. Anyone with information is asked to call Gatineau Police.
The Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region is one of many resources available if you need someone to talk to or are in distress. The number is 613-238-3311.