Wellness FAQs

Asking a committee member whether he is ready for the job market, the grad student suffocates in the hesitant silence. Image Credit: Lego Grad Student @legogradstudent | Website: https://brickademics.com


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For graduate students

Q. Where can I go if I have concerns about my supervisor / committee that are causing me stress or anxiety?

A. You are not alone! Many students find it helpful to talk to the UTGSU Membership and Advocacy Coordinator, Gail Fernando (416-946-8699; membership@utgsu.ca). Gail will listen to your questions and concerns and assist you with confidential advice, information, and/or representation, if needed.

You can also connect confidentially with a G2G Peer Advisor at the Graduate Conflict Resolution Centre (gradcrc.utoronto.ca; drop-ins or appointments). The G2Gs are trained in conflict resolution strategies and can provide coaching and make referrals as appropriate to many other graduate supports, including the SGS Wellness Counsellors. No issue is too small to discuss! 

Q. How do I know if what my supervisor expects of me is fair or "normal"?

A. To get started, take a look at the SGS Supervision Guidelines. You can connect with Gail Fernando, UTGSU Membership and Advocacy Coordinator (416-946-8699; membership@utgsu.ca) or meet with a G2G Peer advisor at the Graduate Conflict Resolution Centre (gradcrc.utoronto.ca; appointments and daily drop-in locations).

Q. Is it ever possible to change supervisors?

A. Yes, although the process through which this can occur depends on the graduate program. Students wishing to initiate this process should first speak with their graduate coordinator. In some cases, the Vice-Dean, Students at the School of Graduate Students may also play a mediating role.

Q. Where can I learn how to improve my coping skills when faced with stressful situations at school or home?

A. A series of free Coping Skills Workshops is available to all U of T students at Health & Wellness (UTGS). Graduate-student-only versions of these workshops are offered through the SGS Wellness Counsellor at the School of Graduate Studies (63 St. George Street). In both cases, these workshops are offered to assist in strengthening skills to manage emotions and stressors.

For information about resources available at UTSC and UTM, please see the Mental Health section of the Graduate Wellness Directory.

Q. How long can I expect to wait for an appointment with the SGS Wellness Counsellor?

A. Typically, the wait can be 1-2 weeks. During high volumes, this period could stretch to three weeks. To ensure the process is as efficient as possible, SGS now has two full-time counsellors dedicated to serving graduate students. To book an appointment with an SGS Wellness Counsellor, please call 416-978-8030 and press 5.

Q. Are there any wellness counsellors in my faculty, program, or department?

A. Yes. Three dedicated services include:
1. Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy: Wellness Counsellor Rachel Van de Vooren will offer brief counselling services to Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy students who may be struggling with the many challenges presented by university life.To book or schedule an appointment with Rachel, all full-time and part-time students can call Health & Wellness at 416-978-8030 and ask for an appointment with the Faculty of Pharmacy's dedicated counsellor. The Registrar's Office can also help answer questions about the counselling service. Scheduled appointments will be held each Wednesday/Thursday or Friday afternoon, at the Faculty of Pharmacy.

2. OISE: Student Success Counsellor Jeananne Robertson will work with registered OISE students to manage challenges and minimize disruptions to their personal well-being and academic success. OISE students are welcome to meet with Jeananne, confidentially and one-on-one, to explore concerns, assess obstacles to academic success, and collaborate to develop support plans and strategies. To arrange a meeting with Jeananne, contact 416-978-2448 or jt.robertson@utoronto.ca.

3. Graduate students enrolled in the Faculty of Medicine, including the MD Program, MD/PhD, Medical Radiation Sciences, Physician Assistant, and Rehabilitation Sciences (OSOT, PT, SLP, RSI) can access a variety of counselling services through the Ofifce of Health Professions Student Affairs (OHPS). These services include: Career Counselling, Personal Counselling & Student Wellness, and Academic Coaching. Find out more.

Q. What wellness resources are offered by the UTGSU?

A. Health & Dental resources include: UTGSU Health & Dental Plan; StudentCare; Top 10 Mental Health Services for U of T Grad Students; Graduate Student Intramurals. The UTGSU also offers ways to get involved and connect with other graduate community members via Grad Minds (the UTGSU Mental & Health Advocacy Committee),
BikeChain, and UTGSU Committees & Caucuses.

Q. I have questions about my Health & Dental Plan coverage. Who can help?

A. Call UTGSU Studentcare at 1-866-358-4436 (Monday to Friday 9-5 pm) or visit www.studentcare.ca.

Q. Do you need referrals from a physician to receive care by a Wellness Counsellor?




A. At Health & Wellness (UTSG), you do not need a physician's referral to see a Wellness Counsellor and can book an appointment by calling 416-978-8030 and pressing 5 (UTSG). However, you cannot self-refer to U of T psychologists or psychiatrists (see definitions below). Health and Wellness will determine your care pathway to these other clinicians, if/as needed.

At Health & Wellness (UTSC), call 416-287-7065 to book an appointment. UTSC does not distinguish between counsellors, Wellness Counsellors, and embedded services. You can request an appointment directly with any of the counsellors at UTSC's Health & Wellness Centre. Psychologists are also part of the UTSC counselling team and do not require a referral. You do, however, require a doctor's referral to see a psychiatrist at UTSC. (See definitions below.)

At Health & Counselling Services (UTM), you can request an appointment directly with counsellors at UTM's Health & Counselling Centre by calling 905-828-5255.

In the GTA community: You do not require a doctor's referral to access counselling services in the GTA community. You do require a doctor's referral to access psychiatric services. See definitions below.

Q. What is the difference between a psychologist, a counsellor, a social worker, a psychiatrist, and a psychotherapist?

A. Brief definitions are as follows:

a) Psychologist: A regulated health professional with a PhD in Clinical Psychology. Provides assessment, diagnosis, and psychological treatment/therapy for mental health conditions, learning issues, and adjustment/stress challenges. 

At Health & Wellness (UTSG), following an assessment with a Health & Wellness physician, you may be referred to a psychologist within U of T or in the GTA community.

At Health & Wellness (UTSC), psychologists are part of the counselling team and do not require a separate doctor's referral.

At Health & Counselling Centre (UTM):UTM is the only campus that does not have clinical psychologists on staff. However, the Health & Counselling Centre may refer you to a psychologist in the community.

In the GTA community, you can self-refer to community providers and use your U of T health insurance.

b) Counsellor: May be a regulated health professional with different educational backgrounds (e.g., Counselling Degree, Career Counselling Diploma, Marital & Family Therapy Certificate, etc.). Depending on the campus, U of T counsellors are psychologists, social workers, and/or psychotherapists (please refer to definitions above/below).

At Health & Wellness (UTSG), you do not need a physician's referral to see a Wellness Counsellor and can book an appointment by calling 416-978-8030 and pressing 5 (UTSG).

At Health & Wellness (UTSC), call 416-287-7065 to book an appointment. UTSC does not distinguish between counsellors, Wellness Counsellors, and embedded services.

At Health & Counselling Services (UTM), you can request an appointment directly with counsellors at UTM's Health & Counselling Centre by calling 905-828-5255.

In the GTA community, no referral is necessary from a physician to see a counsellor.

c) Social Worker: A regulated professional with an MA in Social Work or Social Services Diploma. Provides intervention for adjustment/mental/stress challenges which can include therapy and links to community services. At U of T, social workers provide counselling in locations across the campus. At UTSG, you can self-refer through Health & Wellness by calling 416-978-8030 and pressing 5. At UTSC, call 416-287-7065; and at UTM, call 905-828-5255. In the GTA community, no referral is necessary from a physician to see a social worker.

d) Psychiatrist: A regulated health professional with an MD in Psychiatry. Provides assessment, diagnosis, and predominantly medication treatment for mental health conditions. At U of T, you require a referral from either a U of T physician or your own family doctor in the community to see a psychiatrist. In the GTA community, a referral from a physician is also required.

e) Psychotherapist: A relatively new regulated health profession whose practitioners have a variety of educational backgrounds (e.g., Marital & Family Therapy training, Counselling Degree, etc.). Psychotherapists provide therapy for mental health conditions & adjustment/stress challenges. UTM is the only campus with psychotherapists at this time.

For faculty and staff

Q. Where can I direct students who are expecting a child or wishing to start/expand a family?

A. They can be seen on the second floor of Health & Wellness (UTSG) where some of the care can be provided prenatally. Health and Wellness would then refer students either to an Obstetrician or Midwife in the community, depending on patient preference. Health & Wellness would continue care until the patient has made that community connection.

For addition resources on all three campuses, please see the Family section of the Graduate Wellness Directory.

Q. Why are students asked to contact the Health & Wellness Centre (UTSG) first when they wish to book an appointment with the SGS Wellness Counsellor?

A. Health & Wellness (UTSG) needs to centrally register students in their record system. Several graduate wellness sites exist and students would be directed to the most convenient sites.  Initial central registration also allows the Centre to have some sense of volumes needing to be seen and adapting as needed.            

Q. I have a student who appears isolated or lonely, without a strong network of support. How can he/she find community on campus? Which services can I refer them to?

A. Students can connect with many services and supports outside their department and connect with grad students from across disciplines through the following:

Gradlife offers Grad Escapes, Grad Talks and Grad Connections as well as larger orientation and special programs through the year.

GradCRC provides peer advising, while Grad Room hosts a variety of events (including a Graduate Speakers Series), writing groups, and yoga sessions within a welcoming community on St. George campus.

The UTGSU also offers ways for students to get involved and connect with their graduate community through the UTGSU Committees & Caucuses.



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