uoft mental health policy

U of T slammed over controversial new mental health policy

The University of Toronto's governing council recently approved a controversial mental health policy that students and community members are criticizing. 

The new policy could see students experiencing mental health issues placed on a mandatory leave of absence, if the school deems it necessary.

According to a statement from Sandy Welsh, the university’s vice provost for students, the policy will only be applied in "rare cases."

In an interview with Welsh earlier this year published on U of T's website, Welsh says that the leave is necessary in some cases for students to "concentrate on their health and to protect their academic record."

Critics of the policy, some of them former students at the university, don't see this to be the case. 

Students and university community members opposed to the policy say that it fails to provide students living with mental health issues adequate accommodation.

According to the document, the policy provides a process where a student may be put on a mandatory leave of absence. 

"When it becomes apparent that a student’s behaviour, due to serious health or mental health issues, poses a risk of serious harm to themselves or others," reads the document. "Or significantly impairs the educational experience of other students, or the student is unable to engage in the essential activities required to pursue an education."

This permission is followed by the condition that the policy will be applied "in circumstances where accommodations and/or supportive resources have not been successful or are not feasible."

The university, according to the document, has been considering a mandatory leave of absence policy for a couple of years and is to be carried out "in exceptional circumstances, and even then only with very significant procedural safeguards for students and a rigorous approach to exploring accommodations and supportive resources."

Students will also be "encouraged, and supported" to agree take a Voluntary Leave of Absence.

If a University-Mandated Leave of Absence is necessary, the school says it will provide a "clear pathway" for both the leaving of and returning to studies. 

"... the policy talks about making accommodations for students and only invoking the policy if these are not working," wrote Jacquie Beaulieu, a PhD Candidate at the university, on Twitter.

"What isn’t stated is that the university will also commit to looking into what might be going on for students in terms of their experience at the university."

Lead photo by

YihTang Yeo


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