Helping Ontario's colleges and universities enhance capacity to support student mental health and well-being

Speaking Your Language – Promoting Mental Health Awareness and Support for International Students

Speaking Your Language – Promoting Mental Health Awareness and Support for International Students

Tuesday June 9th, 2015 from 3:15 – 4:15 pm

Workshop Overview

The Speaking Your Language project is a tri-campus initiative between Ryerson University, OCAD University, and the University of Toronto that aimed to identify the barriers that exist for international students accessing mental health support services on campus. Working from an extensive literature review, student survey and feedback from focus groups we piloted two models of support for this vulnerable population. 

This session highlighted the prominent research on international student mental health, their help seeking behaviours, perceptions of counselling, and how we managed to engage them in conversations about mental health and educate them about the realities of North American counselling practices. The session covered: 

  1. How to recognize language that international students use to talk about mental health and incorporate this into your interactions with them
  2. What are some of international students’ key challenges and perceptions towards mental health
  3. Opportunities and challenges in culturally or linguistically specific or counselling-centered approaches


Arif Abu, Coordinator of International Student Services and the Speaking Your Language Project, Ryerson University

Arif is responsible for managing, developing and implementing all ISS services to enhance and support the academic and personal success of over 2000 international students at Ryerson.

Arif has previously worked at the University of Victoria, UBC (Okanagan), and most recently at UOIT all in roles supporting international students.  His knowledge on the experience of international students comes from firsthand experience as well as his academic studies at the University of Windsor (MA in Political Science and BA with honors in International Relations and Development Studies). Arif is the co-Chair of Internationalization of Student Affairs committee of CACUSS and founder of INTL a professional network of CBIE dedicated in building next generation of international educators. 


Speaking Your Language PowerPoint Download File