Government of Canada invests nearly $4 million to OCAD University to support mental health of students

News release

Funding is part of a commitment of $100 million to support those most affected by COVID-19

February 21, 2023 | Toronto, ON | Public Health Agency of Canada

Students have been among those hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, with social isolation, virtual learning challenges, job insecurity, and financial hardship having a profound impact on their mental health and well-being. The Government of Canada is committed to improving mental health resilience for everyone, and particularly those who are disproportionately affected by mental health challenges or face barriers to mental health supports.

Today, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, announced nearly $4 million in funding to OCAD University to support The Mindful Campus Initiative, which will help to enhance students' coping and resilience skills and create a supportive environment in which emerging creative artists and designers, including those from marginalized communities, can flourish. The funding will support a comprehensive set of mental health promotion materials linked to a peer support network, in addition to a variety of mindfulness training and practice programs.

This collaborative initiative will be delivered in partnership with Concordia's Faculty of Fine Arts; York University's School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design; Nova Scotia College of Art & Design University; and Seneca's School of Creative Arts and Animation.


"Our government recognizes that the pandemic has added greatly to the pre-existing mental health and substance use challenges that many students and young people face. This is especially true for marginalized and racialized young adults. Today's funding to the Mindful Campus Initiative will empower students at OCAD University and four additional campuses across Canada to learn healthy coping skills, build resilience, and support one other as we continue to adapt to challenging and evolving times."

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, and Associate Minister of Health

"As we emerge from the pandemic, students continue to face an uncertain world with climate change, rising housing costs and inflation, and current conflicts. Mindful Campus is designed to help students develop resilience and coping skills to meet life's challenging and stressful experiences so they can truly flourish. We are very grateful to the Public Health Agency of Canada for investing in the health and well-being of students and to our partners in supporting this program."

Deanne Fisher
Vice-Provost, Students & International, OCAD University

Quick facts

  • Today's announcement is part of a $100 million investment provided in Budget 2021, to support projects that promote mental health and prevent mental illness in populations disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. These include youth; seniors; First Nations, Inuit and Métis; Black and other racialized people in Canada; front-line and other essential workers; and others whose mental health has been—and continues to be—especially impacted by the pandemic.

  • Renison University College, at the University of Waterloo, is hosting a Knowledge Development and Exchange Hub for Mental Health Promotion (KDE Hub) to support the projects funded through this investment helping to build a community with shared interests in optimizing mental health promotion and mental illness prevention across Canada.

  • The Government of Canada is committed to supporting the mental health of people in Canada through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

  • Community-based projects focussed on mental health promotion have the potential to improve health outcomes over the life course.

  • Mental health promotion and mental illness prevention are critical components for wellbeing and can help reduce demands on the health care system.

  • If you or a loved one is struggling, you can access the Wellness Together Canada portal, or call 1-866-585-0445 or text WELLNESS to 741741 (adults) or 686868 (youth). The Wellness Together Canada portal provides free access to educational content, self-guided therapy, moderated peer-to-peer support, and one-to-one counselling with qualified health professionals

  • Kids Help Phone saw the demand for their services grow by over 137% in 2020 compared to the year prior, demonstrating a strong need to support youth and their mental health within Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. Kids Help Phone is available 24/7 with e-mental health service offering free, confidential support to young people in English and French.

Associated links


Maja Staka
Press Secretary and Senior Communications Advisor
Office of the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health
Carolyn Bennett

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada

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