York announces $5,000 tuition increase to fund mental health support for students

Students are ecstatic to hear about York’s “YU Are Not Alone” mental health support campaign that will fill their inboxes with weekly motivational messages. (Courtesy of Riddhi Jani)

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As the 2020-2021 school year comes to a close, York has begun planning for the upcoming summer and fall terms. The fall 2021 term will see a new, completely virtual program being implemented, which will provide support for students undergoing mental health struggles for the small price of a $5,000 annual tuition increase per student.

In the past, many projects have failed to meet student expectations due to budget constraints, which is what we aim to avoid with the ‘YU Are Not Alone’ initiative,” says Roy Diema, spokesperson for the university. “A tuition increase of $5,000 should allow us to try something innovative and unique, and something that is truly accessible to everyone regardless of their location.”

The ‘YU Are Not Alone’ campaign will consist of weekly email blasts in the upcoming fall term and once met with a positive response, students should expect to receive daily stress relievers in the form of ecards, GIF sets, and memes. The initiative, which has been in the making for the last five years, aims to ensure the best possible outcomes for students.

“I understand why it took so long. These things need rigorous planning, and I’m glad we will finally be receiving the support we need. The $5,000 seems reasonable considering the costs and expertise required to fund a project of this magnitude,” says Benjamin Ma, a first-year accounting student.

As of now, no official announcements have been made, but according to Diema, a select number of students were sent a survey in January regarding the project, which was met with an overly positive response.

“I am thrilled! After all my classes moved online, I couldn’t just go to Scott Library and cry my worries out in one of the cubicles, so I had to improvise at home. But this changes everything. I’m so glad the university is taking interest in the students’ well-being,” says Ilse Berg, a fifth-year biochemistry student.

Students can rest assured that Dr. Alma Carusso, the lead mental health specialist behind the initiative, and her team members will use their expertise in the field to ensure that all activities are in the students’ best interests.

“Online learning comes with its positives and negatives, and we want to tackle those negatives in a holistic, non-invasive approach that diverges from a more traditional homeopathic route. Our goal is to find alternative methods that combat stress resulting from financial and academic pressures to enhance student performance and quality of life,” says Carusso.

According to the survey sent out by York Media in January, 97.3 per cent of students reported that they were under “mild to heavy” stress due to school. Stress triggers an individual’s fight-or-flight response and when prolonged, the various chemicals involved, such as the stress hormone cortisol, can be detrimental to an individual’s physical and psychological health. 

Carusso believes it is essential to manage short term or acute stress before it becomes a threat to the well-being of students. “In my experience, there have been many times when acute stress has turned into chronic stress over time, especially in high-pressure academic settings. Medicine is only a temporary relief system, which is why it is important that we help students manage their acute stress and prevent it from becoming long term,” adds Carusso.

In order to optimize the ‘YU Are Not Alone’ experience, York Media and the mental health specialists behind the campaign encourage students to share their own ideas about possible activities they would like to see implemented.

“This truly is a project for the students by people who were once students themselves, so we need to know what students are looking for to make sure the campaign lives up to its full potential,” says Diema.

Berg suggests that mind-enriching puzzles could keep stress under control. “This sounds like it could be an amazing opportunity to take advantage of technology and implement new strategies. I would love to see some thousand-piece puzzles that help boost serotonin levels and enrich brain activity, while keeping students relaxed.”

As it would be with any new campaign being launched by the university, we can’t help but to ask ourselves if there is a catch. The good news is that there is no catch and students can look forward to weekly motivational messages in their YorkU inboxes as the program sends out its first ‘YU Are Not Alone’ ecard on September 13, 2021. 

Mark your calendars!

About the Author

By Riddhi Jani



Riddhi has a background in biology and possesses an ever-growing enthusiasm for art and writing. Still in search of her own art style, Riddhi takes inspiration from a variety of art forms and media to build her portfolio. She hopes to implement her creative energy into her art as well as her writing as she journeys to improve her outlook on real-world events. When she is not designing, writing, or editing, she can be found adding to her never-ending list of to-be-reads or hiking through the nearest forest (looking for the entrance to a magical land, of course).


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