Your mental health this month

Sketchbook, markers, paint, dried flowers

OCAD U acknowledges the experiences we’re facing right now are especially difficult on our students’ mental health. All of us have been through a long, stressful period adjusting to COVID-19, and we thought we were nearing the end. Recognizing that this winter may be very challenging to many of our students, our Student Wellness office has rounded up some helpful tips and resources to help you through the season.

Thinking about gratitude

The start of the calendar year may be a good time to reflect and make space for feelings of gratitude. Often when we are dealing with difficulties and challenges, we tend to focus on what’s not going right. But if there is anything the last year has shown us, it’s that we are resilient. Take a few minutes to think of the things you are grateful for. You could start practicing this thinking about gratitude a little bit, every day. This practice isn’t about diminishing the difficulties of our experiences have been, but rather, it’s an opportunity to recognize set aside time to also consider the good things that have been happening, too, and create some balance in our thinking, which can have extraordinary effects on our mental health. This article on gives you 10 ways to begin a practice of gratitude.

Stay connected

When the cold weather tends to keep us indoors more often than out, it can make it challenging to stay connected. Plan video chats with friends and family to watch movies together, play games, etc.! Interactions with loved ones can help us feel more connected and less isolated during these challenging times.

Embrace winter

Snowy stairs in Toronto. Photo: Yulia Matvienko/UnsplashUnderstanding that physical health and mental health are connected, it’s important to stay active. Having a positive mindset about winter may encourage you to think of new ways to get outside more. Spending time outdoors and in nature can have a positive impact on our moods – the snow and cold doesn’t have to change that. Toronto is a city filled with walking and cycling trails, interesting neighbourhoods to explore and had a fabulous shoreline that is amazing, even in frigid temperatures.

Keep healthy habits and routines

Prioritizing the healthy habits that you normally have, such as getting enough sleep, eating healthily, and exercising regularly will help.


Self-care is knowing that it’s ok to take time for yourself. It’s also ok to reach out for mental health support for yourself. Check in with your own mental health – how are you feeling? Are you getting the support you need, whether that means just taking time for yourself doing things that you enjoy or speaking to somebody? Whether its talking to a friend or eating your favourite meal, taking time for yourself should always be the time to care for yourself is so important for your wellbeing.

Urgent support

During this period of campus closure, OCAD U’s Student Wellness Centre staff are available virtually Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Outside these hours, or for additional support:

  • Lumenus Community Services What’s Up Walk-in Clinic
    A free mental health counselling service for children, youth and families with infants that can help with issues like depression, bullying, sexual identity, behavioral concerns, parenting…or anything else that’s on your mind. No health card needed, no appointment needed, no fees, immediate and barrier free access. Visit website for locations and hours. Will see young adults up to age 24. Note there are two locations that see young adults up to 29 years of age.
  • Check out Keep.meSAFE by is the new mental wellness Student Support Program (SSP). They provide virtual counselling services and are available 24/7/365 for all OCAD U students. Download the My SSP app to get connected with a counsellor or call directly 1-844-451-9700.
  • Good2Talk, offers counselling support for students in Ontario available 24/7/365 at 1-866-925-5454 or by texting GOOD2TALKON at 686868.
  • Distress Centre Toronto
    Telephone crisis support available 24/7/365 by calling 416-408-4357.
  • Gerstein Crisis Centre
    Telephone Crisis Support available 24/7. They aim to help individuals address immediate problems and are able to connect individuals to other services as needed.
  • Telehealth Ontario offers fast, free and confidential health advice from a Registered Nurse. They can be reached 24/7 at 1-866-797-0000.
  • For same-day virtual walk-ins with a doctor, please visit Apple Tree Medical.
  • Crisis Services Canada can also be reached 24/7/365, in English or French at (416) 915-4566 and in emergencies please attend your local hospital emergency department or call 911.

Curious about registering with Accessibility Services for academic accommodations in the new year? Please visit our Student Accessibility Services page for more information and/or contact

For even more resources, please visit the Student Wellness Centre resources page.