It’s not About The Mental Healthcare—It’s The Inaccessibility of The University Itself
After the regrettable suicide of a student on University of Toronto Campus this past Sunday night, about which the university has yet to make a statement, numerous University of Toronto students have spoken out the past few days in a calling for better mental health services and transparency across the board.
According to page 20 of the University of Toronto 2018-2019 budget, initiatives for access and diversity was allotted 3.5 million dollars. So why is the system clearly still failing its student body? It’s not about more mental health funding, we need to actually be looking at the factors as to why the need for mental health supports has increased so significantly over the past few years to actually address the issues at hand, rather than patch-fix them.
Like most of us know, University of Toronto is the most competitive school in Canada, where students often need first-year averages 90+ to be accepted into their desired major. Coupled with the enormous academic transition we have in Ontario from high school to University, this can be hard to achieve. Nonetheless, University of Toronto is stereotyped for a high international student population—but this isn’t a stereotype, nearly 22% of students at U of T are international students (2017-2018 budget report), and many already possess undergraduate degrees. This makes high achievement for Canadian students even more of a challenge, as the first-year students are only competing to fit on the bell curve and not be weeded out.
What’s also notable is the questionable covering-up of the first-year acceptance rate versus drop-out rate. Many professors actually admit that students will have a difficult time fitting on the bell curve when the program is designed to only keep 800 students for second-year after 1200 are accepted. My question is—how is this system acceptable when it causes a ridiculous amount of unnecessary stress for students and it gives them artificial grades that do not actually represent their intelligences?
Let’s not forget about the extreme lack of funding that Ontario students have, with recently diminished OSAP and sky-high rent rates in Toronto (where the average one-bedroom has now soared to $2200+ according to Blogto), making University of Toronto students face a far-too-challenging reality for any 18-year-old to handle. You might say “Why choose U of T then?” And for a response, you need to realize that these students are there to find success They’re reaching for top-funded programs—the most varied science programs in the country; they chose a career path where only U of T offers that specialized program; they’re dreaming of graduate school and they have the work ethic to get there.
Even if one works exceptionally hard, everyone has a breaking point, and with these added stress factors at the University of Toronto, that breaking point comes too quickly. It’s important to remember that students are not money-making objects (if anything they have the least of it), they’re human, and we’re forgetting to treat them that way.
We don’t need more investment in mental health counselling, we need investment into making university an accessible place for the demographic of the people there.