Guelph vice provost to meet with students over mental health concerns

Eli Ridder | Report

Following a tweet that went viral from a student concerned with the mental health supports offered at the University of Guelph, a group is meeting with Vice Provost of Student Affairs Carrie Chassels on Tuesday to discuss ways to improve services.

Victoria Raymond, who has gone viral before with a Vine compilation poking fun at university stereotypes in Ontario, told The Avro Post her and a “handful of other concerned students” will meet with Chassels with the aim to “brainstorm some constructive changes”.

Raymond’s initial post was retweeted over 290 times and “liked” some 759 times, and featured nine follow-up tweets in a thread where she blasted the University of Guelph for having the “worst mental health support [out] of all the universities in Ontario.

Read the Thread:

Raymond said the university “got away with ignoring four suicides in one year by preaching a ‘great community’ where ‘everybody loves eachother'”, pointing out that the school has no reading week and only one psychiatrist who she claims has a year-long referral time.

“Time and time again students bring up issues they have [with] Guelph’s approach [and] are ignored” she wrote in the thread, adding that “suicides are brushed away” with reality hidden by a “‘cheery’ reputation”.

“Admissions are increased all despite the school’s lack of physical, intellectual [and] mental health resources”, Raymond continued, finishing off by warning she would write an open letter to the administration “if they continue to ignore this issue”.

The thread, which was posted last week on Dec. 5, got hundreds of interactions and several comments.

One of the comments was a reply to the thread from Vice Provost Carrie Chassels, who offered to meet with Raymond, later confirming to The Avro Post on Sunday night that there will be a meeting at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

Raymond’s claims of poor mental health supports on the university campus is being investigated by The Avro Post, including the university only a sole hired psychiatrist.

The University of Guelph-Humber’s mental health supports are reliant upon Humber College, who directs students to the Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre, or SWAC.

Who’s to blame?

The situation got political when the University of Guelph Young Liberals replied to the thread to note that the previous provincial government “made historic investments in mental health services”.

The investments included a planned $2.1 billion set aside for additional mental health services over four years, but the new PC Party government under Premier Doug Ford cut $330 million in funding per year.

“This is just another example of Doug Ford’s cuts having [real] impacts on [your] lives,” Young Liberals Vice President Sean Mitchell told The Avro Post, adding that the cuts “disproportionately affects youth”.

The Progressive Conservatives of Guelph told The Avro Post those “who are quick to blame” the PC’s “have ignored any common sense solution to help people”, saying they have “wasted the last 15 years bribing people for votes”.

The party riding association said those same people were “wasting billions of dollars in cover-ups and scandals while ignoring” those who are “disadvantaged”, but it was not clear whether the PC’s were referring to citizens or the Liberal Party.

“In Guelph, we need a new hospital, as there is limited room to expand our current hospital. The present government is consulting with those that know the problem and will work to make things better, including mental health issues.”

The party did not go into further detail regarding mental health on the University of Guelph campus.

Guelph’s Member of Provincial Parliament Mike Schreiner, the only elected Green Party official in the province, told The Avro Post that “we desperately need more mental health supports for young people.”

“I’m calling on the Premier to increase mental health supports, not cut them.”

The New Democrats were not immediately available for comment. The Avro Post reached out for comment from the University of Guelph-Humber, IGNITE, Humber College and the Guelph Central Student Association.

More details to follow. Image of the University of Guelph from files.

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