University Student Mental Health & Wellness

Poor mental health in university students is a significant and growing concern in Durham Region.  Research suggests that 40% of university students experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, and coping difficulty, particularly in their first year of university (Chandler et al. 2008, Hussain et al. 2013). Currently, little is known about the origin, progression, and consequences of these mental health issues.


In response, the Canadian Mental Health Association-Durham (CMHA-D) and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) have successfully partnered with the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) to develop a better understanding of the issues. The project will involve a survey of undergraduate students which will examine the association between modifiable lifestyle factors such as sleep in Ontario. The survey will evaluate behaviour, exercise, and addiction, as well as socio-demographic variables, on student mental health. Piloting of the developed questionnaire took place in March 2017 in preparation for larger faculty (FHSc) wide study.

The aim of the project is to:

  • advance the understanding of student mental health,

  • how to better manage the issues,

  • position service providers to educate the community regarding mental health issues in youth

  • and to pursue and provide evidence-based interventions.

The U-SMART is a research initiative that aims to improve the mental health of university students by:​​

Photo: May 10, 2017 at Futures Forum, OTF Recognition Photo.
Front to back row (left to right) are:  Dr. Lori Livingston, Dean of Faculty of Health Sciences, Dr. Pierre Côté, Canada Research Chair in Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation, FHSc, Director UOIT-CMCC Centre for Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation, Linda Gallacher, CEO, Canadian Mental Health Association, Durham (CMHA), Mr. Dan Carter, Oshawa Regional and City Councillor, Mr. Paul Secord, Director Programs and Clinical Services, CMHA, Durham, Dr. Cindy Malachowski, Faculty of Health Sciences, Mr. Michael Short, Masters student, FHSc, Dr. Lydia Brodie, Masters student, MCC

Ms. Nayantara Hattangadi, Masters student, FHSc, Dr. Christine Mechamalil, Masters student, CMCC, Ms. Kellie MacBurnie,  HR Project Lead, CMHA, Durham, Mrs. Kathy Smith, Research Coordinator, UOIT-CMCC Centre for Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation

  • Identifying the most effective methods to screen for mental health problems in university students

  • Understanding the burden, determinants, and consequences of mental health problems in university students.

Team Members

  • Pierre Côté DC, PhD (Principle Investigator)

  • Kathy P. Smith MHSc (Research Development Assistant)

U-SMART has received seed grant funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF).  


  • Nancy Fynn-Sackey BHSc MHSc (candidate) (UOIT)​​

  • Nayantara Hattangadi BHSc MHSc (candidate) (UOIT)

  • Andrew Reynolds BSc MHSc (candidate) (UOIT)

  • Michael Short BHSc MHSc (candidate) (UOIT)

Collaborators (alpha)

© Centre for Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation