GALDSU's Mental Health Initiative was established on September 18, 2013, when GALDSU's General Council struck the Mental Health Committee. The initiative was born out of a concern over the unhealthy habits and behaviours that seemed to be associated to our design disciplines.

In December 2013, GALDSU launched its first mental health survey with the purpose of better understanding the needs and habits of the students we represent. The results were summarized in the 2013-2014 Mental Health Report and presented for consideration to faculty, students and staff in the hopes of sparking conversation and open dialogue. The report highlighted internal problems unique to our faculty, but also revealed a set of larger issues ingrained within the pedagogy of many design schools.

In March 2014 the dialogue expanded into the public sphere when the Mental Health Report became available online. By April it had been covered by many frequented architecture blogs and websites. Its popularity was further proof that issues in the report went far beyond our own four walls and resonated with design schools around the world.

In response to the report, GALDSU has spearheaded a series of projects. Firstly, we tried to address the issues raised by last year’s report as quickly and effectively as possible, implementing low cost solutions to improve physical space and foster
student engagement. Our key project in this aspect has been the Lounge058 renovations, transforming a rarely used space in the faculty into the vibrant heart of student life at Daniels.

We have also become advocates for discussion on health and well-being within architecture schools and academia, participating in university-wide consultations looking at mental health on campus, outreaching to other faculties and schools to create opportunities for collaboration, and participating in forums and events discussing the unique mental health issues affecting
university students.

Our efforts continue in 2018 with the release of the 2018-2019 Health and Well-being Report, a continuation of the 2013-2014 Mental Health Report. We hope this new edition, based on the results of a survey administered in February and April 2019, will continue to foster discussion and open dialogue, promoting a necessary conversation about the state of mental and physical health in design schools and professions.

History of the Initiative