Supporting Panel Reports

University of Waterloo Outreach Initiatives

- pulled from Foundations: Mental Health and Well-Being Initiatives (2017)

Health Promotion and Awareness

  • Student volunteers (within departments, faculties, undergraduate and graduate student unions) organize activities promoting mental health awareness and stress reduction:  Burst Your Bubble; Healthy Minds; Glow Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity; The Women’s Centre; Wrap Up Week (events encouraging wellness prior to exams); and frequent campus visits from service/therapy dogs, helping students de-stress.
  • Mental Health Wellness Day (in its ninth year) raises awareness of campus services and supports those community members struggling with mental health issues.
  • Single & Sexy (a play written and performed by University of Waterloo students during Orientation Week) addresses various situations faced by first-year students living on their own, including homesickness, abusive relationships, sexuality and shifting values.
  • Move Your Mind, initiated by Health Services and Athletics and Recreation, pairs participants and student volunteers in healthy exercises to combat mental health fears.
  • The Campus Wellness website blog and other social media vehicles provide information to help students with stress and mental health concerns.

Skill Building

  • Counselling Services offers many skill-building seminars and workshops (in person and online). Coping Skills consists of four one-hour seminars focus on cultivating resilience, challenging thinking, managing emotions and changing behaviour.
  • The University’s Housing & Residences department provides a wide range of skill-building workshops on managing academics, test anxiety and wellness habits. In their Living-Learning Communities, peer leaders, entrepreneurs in residence and alumni in residence provide workshops and training in recognizing academic and personal stress.
  • Workshops in the Student Success Office help improve study and life skills, while Peer Success Coaches can help develop personalized actions plans. University 101 helps students who did not meet their program requirements after their first year of study by developing personal wellness strategies that support their academic skills.
  • Athletics and Recreation offers several programs, including Warrior Habits and Workout Buddies, designed to keep students active, healthy and happy.
  • AHS 107: Sociology of Activity, Health, and Well-being (a required course for all first-year Applied Health Sciences students) focuses on social and cultural factors influencing leisure, activity, health and well-being within diverse settings and different populations.


  • The preceding groups, programs and events, supplemented by other student-led initiatives and campus clubs, aim to break down barriers, reduce the stigma associated with mental health and promote well-being.

Counselling and Specialized Services

  • Counselling Services’ team of professionals delivers free programming and services to all University of Waterloo students currently registered or on a co-op term. With a secure, private, confidential and supportive environment for students of all orientations and backgrounds, Counselling Services provides emergency support, urgent support, walk-in appointments, single session, intake, brief individual appointment, and group therapy — all to help students lead healthy and balanced lives.
  • UW MATES (Mentor Assistance Through Education and Support), a counselling-based, one-to-one peer support program offered by the Federation of Students and Counselling Services, helps students who are experiencing social difficulties, mental health challenges and transitional challenges adapting to university life or different cultures.
  • Health Services has a range of student mental health supports: walk-in appointments with a physician/nurse practitioner, nurse triage to assess acuity of mental health concerns, mental health nurses who provide ongoing support, counselling and medication monitoring, and psychiatry (via consultation) with physicians, psychiatric assessments and ongoing treatment.
  • Housing and Residences offer both a dedicated Counsellor in Residence and a dedicated Case Support Coordinator. Residence Life Dons receive extensive training in responding to critical incidents and also provide weekly and monthly programs and meetings to connect and build community.
  • The Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP), provided by Homewood Health (effective September 2016), is a University of Waterloo-driven, no-cost benefit for eligible employees and their family members, providing 24/7/365 access to confidential, short term counselling services, and is available in person, online or by telephone.
  • Organizational and Human Development (OHD) and Occupational Health offer assessments and workshops in Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace.
  • AccessAbility Services provide academic support for students with both permanent and temporary disabilities.
  • The Equity Office has expertise on substantive equality, diversity and inclusion matters.
  • The Sexual Violence Response Coordinator is a central resource person who provides guidance on where to find support, available options, and such steps as safety planning and navigating university procedures.
  • The Chaplain Offices represent 11 different faith traditions, provide ritual space and moments, offering intentional and compassionate spiritual responses in times of crisis.
  • The Waterloo Aboriginal Education Centre provides culturally relevant Indigenous information and support services to the university community, including Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students, staff and faculty.
  • University of Waterloo Police, in partnership with the campus community, works to provide a safe and secure environment. As first responders to campus incidents, they coordinate crisis management and responses to student emergencies as well as directing referrals to campus and community resources.

Community Partnerships

  • The University of Waterloo has strong partnerships with many community resources and can assist with referrals. These partnerships include:
    • Off Campus Counselling, including Delton Glebe, KW Counselling, Carizon Family and Community Services, and Shalom Counselling.
    • Crisis Lines, including HERE 24SEVEN and Good 2 Talk
    • Off Campus After-Hours Clinics, including a list of walk-in community clinics and hospitals for after-hours care during peak times each term when walk-in visits are unavailable on campus at the end of the day.
    • Sexual Violence Community Resources, including St. Mary’s Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence (immediate crisis support and counselling), Sexual Assault Support Centre, Community Justice Initiatives (support groups for the victim and offender) and The Women’s Centre (peer support and resources)
    • Domestic Violence Community Resources, including Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region, Carizon – Family Violence Project, Assaulted Women’s Helpline, and Healing of the Seven Generations.

Governance and Policy

  • The President’s Advisory Committee on Student Mental Health (PAC-SMH) will collect data on student mental health (considering both the Waterloo student body and the larger societal context), review the information collected, advise on the progress of mental health initiatives across the university, examine root causes of student stress, anxiety and depression, and suggest how to mitigate them proactively instead of reactively.
  • The President appoints a PAC-SMH Chair and eight members, based on expertise, stakeholder representation, and expression of interest, with students comprising 50 percent of the committee’s representation. Five topical expert panels, each comprised of 15-20 members (students, staff, faculty, alumni, community partners, and parents) support the committee, and are focused on a range of topics including student services, community partnerships, academics, mental health experts and the student experience.

Training and Professional Development

  • Counselling Services offers a broad range of suicide intervention and mental health training programs, raising mental health awareness, reducing stigmas and supporting early intervention for those in need on campus. Training includes: QPR, SafeTalk, More Feet on the Ground (online and in person), Mental Health First Aid, and Asist.


  • On campus, The Centre for Mental Health Research (CMHR), a state-of-the-art-facility in the Department of Psychology offers accessible, effective mental health services to the public. Federal and provincial funding allows faculty and students at the CMHR to not only provide comprehensive clinical training but also to conduct highly productive programs of research in such areas as the development, persistence and treatment of anxiety problems; factors associated with atypical cognitive development in children; innovations in understanding and treating eating disorders;, the impact of cognitive decline on relationship functioning; and interpersonal processes in psychological treatment.
  • The School of Public Health and Health Systems has multiple health policy and health systems researchers with a special interest in mental health, such as interRAI Canada, a research, education and knowledge exchange cluster focusing on promoting innovations in data, evidence and application systems for the health and social service sectors. This collaborative network of researchers in 32 countries is committed to improving services for vulnerable populations including those affected by mental illness.
  • The Mental Health and School-to-Work Transitions Research Lab, located in the Department of Psychology at St. Jerome’s University, focuses on the mental health of emerging adults and the psychological variables that underlie success in post- secondary/tertiary education and subsequent school-to-work transitions.
  • The Centre for Community, Clinical and Applied Research Excellence’s multidisciplinary team (researchers, clinical experts and staff) strives to improve the overall health of individuals in the community through advanced research, educational opportunities, and progressive outreach programs, helping to advance our knowledge in preventing and managing illness and injury while optimizing health.

Conferences and Seminars

  • During the year, various staff, students and faculty host, develop and attend conferences, research events, colloquiums and forums for mental health. Highlights include: graduate student representation at the Conference of the Canadian Association of Cognitive & Behavioural Therapies; sessions at the annual staff conference hosted by Organizational & Human Development; and presentations by clinical graduate students at the Annual Convention of the Canadian Psychological.