University of Guelph conducting ‘House Calls’ checking on mental health of first-year students

Click to play video: 'Mental health toll of COVID-19 pandemic on youth'
Mental health toll of COVID-19 pandemic on youth
In part 1 of a Global News series on teens and mental health, Caryn Lieberman speaks with the mother of a 15-year-old who is struggling with social isolation amid the pandemic – Jun 1, 2021

The University of Guelph is reaching out to check on the mental health and wellbeing of nearly 5,000 first-year students.

The “House Calls” program is now in its sixth year but will be virtual for the second year in a row due to COVID-19.

The check-ups will occur via Microsoft Teams from Nov. 22-26.

“Transitioning to university can be an exciting and scary experience,” said Kristin Lennan, acting associate director of residence life.

“There are many firsts for students and lots of new situations to navigate.  We want our students to know we care about them. Who they are and what they bring to Guelph is important. If they are struggling in any way, we want to be able to help.”

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The university said resources and supports will be shared with the students to facilitate connections to opportunities on campus.

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The program is also timely with exams pending and the stress that can accompany them, said Lennan.

Click to play video: 'More students expected to face mental health challenges amid return to school in Ontario'
More students expected to face mental health challenges amid return to school in Ontario

Volunteers in the program include faculty, staff and alumni. The university said training was provided to ensure recipient students are well supported. Last year, 181 volunteers participated.

“This is what being a Gryphon is all about — showing that we can all care for one another regardless of what connects us to campus,” Lennan said.

“House callers have let us know that although they may not have connected with the same number of students as they would have in-person, the quality of the conversations was more impactful online.”

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