Review of the Role of Campus Safety Services in Student Mental Health Crises

Review of the Role of Campus Safety Services in Student Mental Health Crises

2021 – Terms of Reference


In furtherance of its commitment to mental health, wellbeing, inclusion, and intellectual development, the University is undertaking a review of mental health and wellness as it relates to Special Constables and their response to individuals experiencing mental health crises, as well as wellness supports for Special Constables in their roles as first responders. We are using the phrase Campus Safety Services to collectively represent the Campus Police/Campus Safety services which are present on our three campuses.

This review is being conducted in parallel with the implementation of recommendations from the Final Report of the Presidential and Provostial Task Force on Student Mental Health, as well as the Administrative Response to the Final Report. Recommendation #6 of the Task Force Report calls for enhanced coordination and the expansion of direct crisis response support and resources. The Task Force notes the need for enhanced mental health training for Campus Police and increased collaboration between Campus Police and other on-campus first responders.

The Reviewers will undertake the responsibilities outlined in their mandate below and submit a report, with related recommendations, to the Vice-President, Human Resources & Equity, and the Vice-Provost, Students. Additional work related to student crisis response and after-hours emergency support that is outside the scope of this review is forthcoming.


  • Assess health and wellness supports on each of our campuses, as well as community-based resources such as the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, specifically:
    • how Campus Safety Services engage with these resources in crisis situations;
    • adjustments to existing procedures and processes that should be made, if any, to provide appropriate transition to mental health professionals; and,
    • a review of pilots (proposed and currently underway), across our tri-campus community, with respect to responding to community members in crisis. This would include constable services skills set, recruiting practices, and response protocols.
  • Review the current structure, where Special Constables are called upon to intervene and manage situations regarding community members in situations that may represent a safety risk to self or others and the implications of interactions that may result in encounters with individuals who are or may be in mental health crisis. The review will focus more specifically on
    • existing policies, practices, procedures, and services employed by Special Constables on all three campuses to address encounters with individuals in mental health distress;
    • how information is captured regarding these incidents, consistency of information across the three campuses, and any changes necessary for data and information management for such incidents;
    • the kind of training Special Constables receive in defusing and de-escalating crisis situations
    • adjustments, if any, that are required to any of the above to ensure Special Constables have the supports needed to engage with. individuals in mental health crisis; and
    • alternate models or structures the University should consider to better support students in mental health crisis.
  • Evaluate how the principles of equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility (EDIA) and their intersection with mental health for individuals of diverse backgrounds inform the approach Campus Safety Services takes in engaging individuals in mental health crisis. The evaluation will address
    • the extent to which Special Constables are trained on biases about mental illness and accompanying stigma;
    • the extent to which Special Constables are trained on the intersection of EDIA and mental health; and,
    • any additional training required, including the general topics or areas that should be considered.
  • Taking into consideration the fact that Special Constables can engage as first responders to a variety of stressful, hazardous, and/or traumatic events, which can lead to mental health strain, evaluate:
    • what resources, practices, and training are in place to support mental health wellness for Special Constables; and
    • what additional mental health supports are required, if any.

Review Panel Membership

  • Joe Desloges, Professor, Department of Geography & Planning (Chair)
  • Ben Eraze, Undergraduate Student, Philosophy Specialist, Woodworth College, Faculty of Arts & Science; Founder and President of Black Future Lawyers of University of Toronto St. George
  • Melissa Fernandes, Mental Health Programs Officer, Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering
  • Jodie Glean, Director, Anti-Racism and Cultural Diversity Office
  • Julius Haag, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology
  • Andrea Levinson, Director, Psychiatric Care
  • Denis Margalik, Graduate Student, Master of Applied Science in Biomedical Engineering, Specialty in Molecular Engineering, Institute of Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering; Vice-President of the Graduate Engineering Council Students Mental Wellness Commission
  • Kwame McKenzie, Chief Executive Officer, Wellesley Institute; Professor, Department of Psychiatry 
  • Gary Pitcher, Director, Campus Safety & Security, UTSC
  • Vishar Yaghoubian, Undergraduate Student, Double Major in Health Studies and Sociology and Minor in Psychology, Woodsworth College, Faculty of Arts & Science; Student Governor for Governing Council; Mental Health Director for Woodsworth College

Online Feedback Form

Thank you for your interest in providing feedback. The online consultation form is now closed (November 29, 2021).