Often times campuses do not have the resources or expertise to fully support students with complex mental health and/or addiction needs.

This section provides information and tools that will help you identify and refer students with complex needs to appropriate services both on-campus and off-campus to successfully support their learning, mental health and well-being. Many community mental health and addiction agencies have their own intake and referral processes so be sure to be informed of this when contacting these organizations.

As well, this section reviews privacy and confidentiality legislation; and includes sample forms and guidelines to consider when working with multiple service providers on-campus and off-campus to provide a coordinated circle of care for the student.

Start to explore tools and resources now!


This section aims to help an array of campus staff build a professional network with community mental health and addiction services in Ontario.

The following set of broad guidelines will help front line counselling staff learn to navigate the process of connecting students/clients to community resources.  These seven recommendations are also useful to managers looking to have a better understanding of this system of services and programs in their search for creating formalized links and collaborations in the community.



Privacy, Confidentiality & Documentation Standards

When campus service providers help support students with complex mental health and/or addiction challenges, sensitive information is shared. As campus professionals, it is essential that we are committed to providing a safe environment that maintains students/clients rights to privacy and confidentiality.

Ontario has two privacy laws, Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA, R.S.O. 1990) and the Personal Health Information and Protection Act (PHIPA, 2004) which stipulate how personal health information must be collected, used, maintained, disclosed, and disposed of.  Ontario’s postsecondary institutes and campus frontline service providers are required to adhere to PHIPA and FIPPA legislation. The resource section includes detailed information about PHIPA and FIPPA legislation.

Here is a summary of the general principles that need to be adhered to by postsecondary institutes.


In compliance with PHIPA, frontline campus service providers must ensure that the student/client relationship as well as the student’s personal health information is kept confidential. Personal health information is defined as any identifying information about a client. It can be in verbal, written or in electronic format, and does not necessarily include the client’s name. If a client can be recognized, the information is considered personal health information; it includes information in the client health record. Information that does not allow the client to be identified is not personal health information, and is not subject to PHIPA.

Consent to the collection, use & disclosure of a student’s personal health information

Campus frontline service providers cannot collect or disclose any personal health information about a student/client without their written informed consent, except where disclosure is permitted or required by law. A student’s/client’s personal health information is legally required to be disclosed if any of the following limits to confidentiality are met:

  • If there is a clear and imminent risk of harm to self or others
  • In a medical emergency
  • When there are reasonable grounds to suspect that a child under the age of 16 is being abused or neglected
  • When there are reasonable grounds to suspect sexual abuse by a regulated health professional
  • In order to comply with a court order (subpoena, summons or warrant)

Frontline service providers must explain to students/clients the principle of client confidentiality and the legal limits to confidentiality, as noted above. Campus services and frontline service providers are also responsible for maintaining client information in a secure manner, so that unauthorized individuals do not gain access to records.

The following confidentiality principles must also be discussed with the student/client and stipulated in the informed consent form.

  • Student access to their record and making amendments to their record:

Students may request access to their record, a copy of their record, or request that any errors contained in their record be corrected.

  • Storage and Disposal of Records:

Student records will be kept for 10 years from the date of their last interaction with counselling, health and/or accessibility/disability services. After this period, student records will be destroyed in a secure manner.

  • Informed Consent

Written or verbal consent must be obtained in order to collect or share personal health information.

Click HERE to view a sample form.

Note: This informed consent form is based on PHIPA and not the higher standards of confidentiality stipulated below by the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO).

  • Release of client information: Circle of care and ‘lock box’ based on PHIPA

The terms “circle of care” and “lock box” are based on PHIPA and are defined by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, Ontario. The circle of care includes other health professionals who provide care to a client, other providers in a multidisciplinary setting, and other providers to whom the Member has referred a client. PHIPA allows health providers to assume in certain circumstances that a client has provided implied consent to disclose his or her personal health information to another individual within the circle of care or to a specific health care provider.

Despite this generality, however, a client may indicate that s/he does not want certain information (or any information) shared, even within that circle. In this circumstance, the practitioner must not share the information. This is called placing information in a “lock box”

Despite PHIPA provisions the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO) requires members to obtain explicit informed consent from clients for the disclosure of any client information as well as requires higher standards of confidentiality than PHIPA requires.  See Section 3.1 Confidentiality and Section 3.2 Consent for CRPO Standards.

Release of Information Forms:

Click here to view a sample interdepartmental release of information/consent form — word doc at


Under heading, Georgian College Release of info form

  • Click here to view a release of information form to a designated professional, agency, 3rd party (off campus)

 Resource Link:



Sample Intake Forms:

Counselling Centre Intake Form – Part A
Counselling Centre Intake Form – Part B
Mental Health Triage Scale – Centennial College

Sample Consent Forms:

Release of Information Form – Georgian College
Monthly Appointment Tracking Form and Activities Report – Centennial College (and the excel worksheet can be found here).
Clockwork Data Collection Fields
Progress Note Form – Centennial College


Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario

Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers – Practice Guidelines for Consent and Confidentiality with Children and Youth


Other Resources


Guidebook on Vicarious Trauma


Discusses the importance of recognizing the effects of vicarious trauma, developing healthy personal solutions and promoting organizational responses to preserve the strength of counsellors and advocates.

Living Well


Section on trauma is designed to increase understanding, to provide practical support, and to give an opportunity for critical reflection on addressing vicarious trauma  



Mental Health Recovery Competencies For Mental Health Workers


Experts by experience participated in an online Delphi survey to rate the importance of recovery competency statements, to reach consensus on the most important competencies and provide examples of specific practices that demonstrate competent practice



Occupational hazards: Compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma and burnout


Article by one of the experts in the field defining compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma and burnout with strategies and resources  



Realizing Recovery:  A National Framework for Learning and Training in Recovery Focused Practice


Outlines the knowledge, skills and values mental health workers require to work in a recovery focused way with people who use mental health services and their friends, family and carers
Recovery Competencies  for New Zealand Mental Health Workers  


Outlines the principles of Recovery and 10 Recovery Competencies for workers




Recovery To Practice


Website which offers e-news, webinars, training and technical assistance, and more than 900 recovery-oriented resources.  Training curricula can be accessed by discipline including addiction specialist, peer specialist, psychiatric nursing, psychiatry, psychology and social work


Tend – Essential Grounding and Debriefing Tools for Front Line Workers



Website dedicated to support those experiencing stress, burnout and fatigue to direct and secondary trauma.  Provides services, trainings, resources and links on related subjects





The Trauma & Mental Health Report



The Trauma & Mental Health Report is a weekly online mental-health magazine.  Its purpose is to share research-based knowledge with members of the community, on the topic of interpersonal trauma


Trauma Informed:  The Trauma Toolkit


A resource for service organizations and providers to deliver services that are trauma-informed