Improving Life – An Interview with Alison Burnett

Posted: May 25, 2022

Alison Burnett is the Director of Student Wellness Services at the University of Guelph, and she is passionate about student mental health and wellness. As both a staff member and a donor, Alison is committed to helping U of G students thrive. Alison personally supports the U of G Mental Health and Wellbeing fund with a donation through payroll.

Why do you support the Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund?

In terms of my values, I feel that we are in a place of privilege to be able to give back to our communities. I’ve spent most of my career in student health and well-being and I believe wholeheartedly that students go through a transformational experience when they move away from home and the support they receive during this can really change their trajectory in life.

What are you seeing on campus with student mental health, and where are the current needs?

Many students are at a pivotal point in their lives, and some are struggling with mental health for several different reasons.

Some equity-deserving populations have specific needs that might look different from others. We also see international students coming from areas of political unrest with specific challenges. Some people might be facing childhood trauma issues or isolation due to the pandemic. All of these students require support and care to help them be successful, both here at the university and in the future.

If you were speaking to a staff member who was thinking about giving to the Mental Health and Well-being Fund, what would you tell them about why it is important?

I would say that we have made leaps and bound in terms of raising awareness, but there is still a gap in accessibility and equity. We can make all the difference by addressing the inequities of accessing supports like unfunded assessments, special treatments, and more intense therapy for specific issues. With more support, we can create more opportunities for students to safely come together and learn about wellness and target those students who might feel isolated.

What do you feel hopeful about in terms of creating a positive impact on student mental health and well-being?

I continue to be inspired by students’ perspectives, their own hope and their desire to create change. I am hopeful about our students’ ability to use their experiences to build a community of support for their peers.

How would you describe the U of G community and the spirit of giving back on campus?

There is a feeling of supporting each other here. This is the third institution I have worked at, and the experience of community and the’s very different at U of G. It is unique.

Support the U of G Mental Health and Wellbeing fund with a gift through payroll. Whether your give $5, 10 or $50 per pay, every amount makes an impact.


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