Inlight launch paves the way for student mental health research at U of T 

To mark the start of Mental Health Week, Inlight hosted their much-anticipated launch event at Massey College on May 1st – a venue that has been convening the next generation of interdisciplinary researchers for 60-years.  

Inlight is an Institutional Strategic Initiatives (ISI) that emerged through the University of Toronto’s (U of T) 2019 Presidential & Provostial Task Force on Student Mental Health.  

The initiative aims to fill knowledge gaps about the mental health and wellness needs of post-secondary students. Most mental illnesses emerge before the age of 18 – or when individuals typically enroll in post-secondary studies. As such, research in this space is a critical priority for U of T. Through this innovative ISI, U of T is the first post-secondary institution in Canada to dedicate interdisciplinary research resources to study student mental health – and leverage the evidence generated to improve mental health services for students across the country.  

The event kicked off with welcome remarks from Inlight Director, Dr. Kristin Cleverley, Professor Linda Johnston, Dean of the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, and Vice-President and Provost Cheryl Regehr, with virtual greetings from President Meric Gertler.   

“The University’s top priority has always been the health and wellness of our students. As the mental health crisis grew, not just on our campuses but across Canada and magnified by the pandemic, we knew we had to redouble our efforts to support our students…” noted President Gertler. 

“U of T is one of the world’s leading centres of mental health research. We had to leverage that strength. The idea was to establish an ISI focused on student mental health and wellness. We would leverage our world-class researchers, research enterprise, our strength in innovation and application, and our network of hospital and community partners… I am delighted by Inlight’s progress. The initiative is already reframing the narrative on student mental health and wellness. It’s building meaningful engagement and reciprocal relationships with students on our three campuses,” he added. 

Inlight’s launch attracted over 120 attendees, including U of T leaders across the tri-campus, students, and the Honorable Michael Tibollo, Ontario’s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.  

The Minister spoke to the province’s Roadmap to Wellness – a $3.8 billion (over 10-years) strategy to support Ontario’s mental health and addictions system.  

The Minister noted, “We know that transitional and postsecondary students have been particularly impacted by the challenges we’ve seen with COVID-19… The innovative research you are conducting [at U of T] helps inform the foundation of the continuum of care we are building here in the province of Ontario. I look forward to seeing the positive changes [Inlight] brings to the field student mental health.” 

Since U of T students are actively engaged in the co-design of Inlight’s research, the event included a panel of undergraduate and graduate student mental health leaders. Students shared their experiences and insights about the future of student mental health research at U of T. 

Inlight has established a robust network of approximately 50 local and international student mental health experts. They include leading researchers affiliated with U of T, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), and various hospital and community partners.  

Through Inlight’s international partnerships, including King’s College London, National Taiwan University, and The University of Sydney, U of T students can participate in valuable professional development opportunities. This experience will provide students with the knowledge and experience needed to pursue careers in academia, research, mental health, health policy, and much more. 

The event also showcased recipients of several funding programs Inlight developed to support U of T researchers, including students, who are focused on postsecondary student mental health.  

To learn more about this ISI, click here.  

To watch the recording of the event, click here

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