Fleming College president, Maureen Adamson, says 69 per cent of students at Haliburton, Lindsay and Peterborough campuses have experienced anxiety during COVID-19. She said that’s up about six per cent prior to the pandemic.

In addition, she says 52 per cent have experienced depression, also up from 46 per cent prior to COVID.

Not surprisingly, she said there has been an increased demand for mental health and addictions support.

Adamson welcomed news Feb. 26 that the province is investing an additional $336,826 for mental health and addiction resources at the campuses she leads, including Haliburton School of Art and Design.

The college president said she is also worried about student retention, with some dropping out due to anxiety and other mental health concerns.

In making the announcement, the province said the money will support a variety of initiatives, including Good2Talk/Allo j’écoute, Ontario’s bilingual mental health helpline which provides professional counselling and information and referrals to all students via telephone, text and live chat (new this year). It is available to all postsecondary students 24/7, 365 days a year.

The province added the funding will strengthen community partnerships, increase the number of mental health workers and programs and immediately expand access for students to the provincial mental health and addictions system.

Local MPP, Laurie Scott, said it had been an exceptionally challenging year for students.

“We’ve heard in Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock from students who attend these schools … they have expressed the challenges they have faced through the year and the toll it has taken on their mental health,” she said.

Although there is some in-class learning at HSAD right now, students have been forced to learn virtually from home for long stretches of time, which is stressful, Adamson said.

“This has been an unprecedented year of anxiety, students looking for support, counselling services have been taxed, so I cannot tell you how profound and important and timely this funding is for us and our students,” she said.

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