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Mental Health and Wellbeing Return To Campus Guide for Student Facing Employees

Ryerson campus

In the coming months, the process of shifting from remote to in-person work will be a big task for the university. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly altered the daily routines of Canadians and drastically impacted the mental health and wellbeing of individuals.

As an institution that values wellbeing, it is vital that we get a sense of what student communities are experiencing as we return to campus and onsite work.

The purpose of this guide is to uncover some of the challenges that students are experiencing and provide information on how best to support them.

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Challenges students may be facing

Man working on computer in the evening
  • Prolonged exposure to stress 
  • Struggles with focus 
  • Loss, grief and uncertainty
  • Quarantine, isolation, and loneliness
  • Financial and housing insecurity 
  • Trauma - including racial trauma 
  • Gender-based violence

Impacts of challenges

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue 
  • Sadness
  • Lack of motivation 
  • Loss of interest
  • Fear (i.e. taking public transportation, heightened risk of contracting COVID as the number of students and employees on campus increase)
  • Hopelessness
  • Stress
  • Anger
  • Mistrust
  • Depression
  • Decline in physical health

How to be responsive to students in need

Student studying

Normalize common challenges 

  • Validate the challenges everyone is experiencing, enter each conversation with empathy and compassion
  • Acknowledge fear and anxiety that individuals may experience as they adjust to the new normal
Person resting head on friend's shoulder

Create space for well-being and cultivate connection

  • Ask students what supports they need; be flexible and offer options and choice where possible
  • Be Patient, Proactive, and Specific when sharing information with students. Knowing what to expect can help with having a greater sense of control.
Faculty member talking to student via video conference

Cultivate Connection 

  • Ensure that students feel welcome, heard, and connected on campus
  • Remind/inform students of supports available (see list of resources below) 
  • Encourage students to seek help. Scaffold this process where possible (i.e. by learning about supports available, or making a warm referral to the appropriate service)
  • Seek Support for yourself, as an employee


  • The Centre for Student Development and Counselling (CSDC) - Provides counselling services to all Toronto Metropolitan full and part-time undergraduate and graduate students who are eligible to proceed in their program and not on academic leave. To book an appointment, students should contact the CSDC front desk at 416-979-5195 or send an email to
  • KeepmeSAFE - Provides 24/7 mental health counselling service through telephone and mobile chat. This service can be provided in over 60 languages and Toronto Metropolitan students are eligible to access the services from outside Canada. Students can access the services by Downloading the My SSP app on their phone’s app store: Apple Store  (external link)  or Google Play (external link) 
  • Consent Comes First - Provides support to Ryerson community members affected by sexual violence.
  • ThriveRU - Provides training and resources to Toronto Metropolitan students, faculty and staff in order to teach the skills associated with resilience, well-being and thriving in both an academic and personal context. 
  •  Thriving in Action is a ThriveRU initiative to help struggling students (in their second year and beyond) thrive, academically and personally. Build motivation, optimism, and resilience, along with learning strategy essentials like time management and effective studying. 
  • Recreation - Provides regular physical activity programs to all Staff, Faculty, and Students.
  • SHARPP - A peer support program designed to help students develop lifelong skills for managing their health and well-being.
  • Talk4Healing (external link)  - Is 24/7 peer support for Indigenous women. Individuals have the option of talk, text and chat service (available in 14 languages) for a safe space to connect.
  • YouthLine (external link)  - Offers offers confidential and non-judgemental peer support through our telephone, text and chat services to 2SLGBTQ+ youth. Individuals can get in touch with a peer support volunteer from Sunday to Friday, 4:00 PM to 9:30 PM.
  • The 519 (external link)  - provides phone or email check-in for the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
  • Trans Lifeline's Hotline (external link)  - a peer support phone service for trans and questioning people
  • Hope For Wellness (external link)  - The Hope for Wellness Help Line offers immediate mental health counselling and crisis intervention to all Indigenous peoples across Canada. If asked, counsellors can also work with you to find other wellness supports that are available near you. Phone and chat counselling is available in English and French.
  • Naseeha Youth Helpline (external link)  - is a confidential helpline for young Muslims to receive immediate, anonymous, and confidential support. Call 1-866-627-3342 (7 days a week, 12 p.m. – 9 p.m. EST) or text 1-866-627-3342 (Monday to Friday, 12 p.m. – 9 p.m. EST). 
  • (external link)  - Canada’s only charity training that empowers young leaders to revolutionize mental health in every province and territory. They have created a COVID-19 Youth Mental Health Resource Hub on their website to support students and their peers through challenging times.