Trinity Launches its Mental Health Program and the Anne Steacy Counselling Initiative

Posted Apr 6, 2016 9:06 am

Click here to view photos from the event

Community celebration honours Trinity alumni Dr. Anne Steacy and Michael and Sheila Royce and students for their leadership and commitment to the College's mental health initiative

Members of the College community gathered on April 4 for a community celebration of Trinity’s Mental Health Program and to honour its alumni for their leadership and commitment to the student experience: Dr. Anne Steacy ’76 – donated $1.5 million to establish the Anne Steacy Counselling Initiative; and Michael Royce ‘68 and Sheila (Northey) Royce ‘68 – donated $250,000 to support the program. The event also provided an opportunity to recognize the College’s student body for their leadership on mental health, notably the approval of a self-imposed levy that will raise $9,000 annually to help fund the program. 

“The healthy development of the whole person is crucial if we are to enable our students to fulfill their enormous potential. Nothing is more important in this regard than mental health and well-being,” said Mayo Moran, Provost and Vice Chancellor, Trinity College. “Through the generous support of our alumni and students, our new mental health initiative will offer enhanced on-site counselling and other supports by trained professionals – vital services and programming that our students can easily access at the College.”

Trinity alumnus and the University of Toronto’s Chancellor Michael Wilson has been a champion for mental health for years. “The launch is very meaningful for me on many levels. I know how important programs like this are for young adults,” said Chancellor Wilson, who is the Chair of the Mental Health Commission of Canada and has served as the College’s 11th Chancellor. “Trinity College and the University of Toronto are making strong and renewed efforts to provide the best supports possible for our students. On behalf of the community, I commend the students of Trinity College for their support on this initiative and thank Anne Steacy and Michael and Sheila Royce for their generosity and commitment to students. The Mental Health Program and the Anne Steacy Counselling Initiative are visionary and truly transformative.”

In response to research about the urgency of mental health needs among university students, the College is developing innovative and ambitious programs in partnership with U of T Health & Wellness and Trinity students. The College will develop an integrated model to provide mental health supports, health and wellness capacity building and programs to enhance student well-being, which are central to Trinity’s strategic priorities.

Supporting Students: Trinity College’s New Team

As part of Trinity’s new program and thanks to the Anne Steacy Counselling Initiative, the College has recently appointed Ramata Tarawally as its new Associate Director, Community Wellness. As a registered nurse, Ms. Tarawally comes to Trinity with a wide range of clinical experience, including health promotion, crisis intervention, sub-clinical counselling and mental health nursing.

“We are so excited to have Ms. Tarawally join our team at Trinity. She is passionate about the many links between physical and mental health and how support in these areas can contribute to student success,” Provost Moran said. “We know that the most significant unmet counselling needs relate to sub-clinical areas such as stress and anxiety, time management, sleep and other issues that infringe upon healthy daily function. Ms. Tarawally will be concentrating her efforts on these issues to support students, both individually and through education and training programs. In her short time here, she has already made a positive and significant impact.”

In her role, Ms. Tarawally will provide support to the community regarding matters of overall health and well-being, focusing on one-on-one sub-clinical counselling and education and resiliency training for students, along with educational outreach, special programs and training for student leaders, academic dons, staff and faculty. She will implement robust education for all students during orientation week, provide ongoing education and programs throughout the school year, especially during high-stress periods such as exams, and develop specialized support for groups such as student leaders, clubs and organizations.

Ms. Tarawally will work closely with Trinity’s embedded clinical counsellor, registered psychologist Dr. Christine Cabrera, who is a specialized U of T Health & Wellness trained counsellor. Dr. Cabrera joined Trinity in a part-time role in September 2015. Working primarily from a cognitive behavioural therapy perspective, the focus of the clinical counselling will be on assisting students with psychological or emotional difficulties to meet their challenges within a balanced and holistic life context. Along with bringing additional supports and educative tools to Trinity, she can refer students to the most appropriate supports within U of T Health & Wellness, such as workshops and group therapy.

Together, Dr. Cabrera and Ms. Tarawally will offer tailored, in-house support to students in need and advocate on their behalf within the larger U of T campus and community.

“It’s been an exciting start here at Trinity – there is so much openness and willingness from students and staff to address mental health and health-related issues,” Ms. Tarawally said. “By building on the current services available to students – both residence and commuter – and creating new initiatives, I look forward to helping students achieve even greater personal and academic success.”

Ms. Tarawally will also provide leadership and coordinate support for services already provided by the College, including those from the Offices of the Dean of Students and Registrar, the College Chaplain and student leaders and clubs, and work closely with services within the University’s Division of Student Life: Crisis Response, Academic Progress, Accessibility Services and Health & Wellness.

Impacting Trinity Students for Years to Come

Trinity students also recognized the need for more mental health support, particularly counselling. “The increased programming for mental health at Trinity has meant so much to students – Ramata is already assisting students and she is a joy to see around the College! My deepest gratitude to Dr. Steacy for her generous gift that will help students for many years to come,” said Trinity student Chelsea Colwill, who is the newly elected 2016-2017 Head of Arts.

In addition, Trinity’s Health & Wellness Program includes both new initiatives and the expansion of current programs to support overall health and well-being of members of its community, including health and nutrition, music and culture, sport and fitness, and an employee family assistance program.

“Research shows a clear link between personal well-being and academic performance. Supporting students goes beyond providing an excellent educational experience – we are committed to the healthy development of the whole person,” Provost Moran added.