Launch of Navi – Student Mental Health Wayfinder (PDAD&C #14)

From: Sandy Welsh, Vice-Provost, Students
Bo Wandschneider, Chief Information Officer
Date: September 23, 2020
Re: Launch of Navi – Student Mental Health Wayfinder (PDAD&C #14)

We are pleased to share that we will be formally launching a Student Mental Health Virtual Agent next week to help students navigate mental health supports at the University of Toronto. Navi, short for navigator, and also a name that has roots that denotes acts of kindness in certain cultures, is an anonymous wayfinding tool that is available 24/7. Navi uses IBM’s Watson Assistant, a virtual agent that uses natural language processing to understand questions it receives, to provide accurate and relevant responses through a simple chat function.

This initiative is aimed at supporting the Report and Administrative Response to the Presidential and Provostial Task Force on Student Mental Health, specifically around developing consistent wayfinding for mental health programs and services. Navi has been developed with input from over 30 subject matter experts from across the university and has been tested by 100 students and 50 staff, faculty, and administrators. Testing has been an important step to train Navi’s comprehension, and user feedback will continue to be important to further the sophistication and breadth of the tool.

For the launch, Navi can speak to 48 broad topics related to mental health including: stress, anxiety, loneliness, harassment, discrimination, bullying, academics, career, sleep issues, accessibility, coping techniques, abuse, eating disorders, how to get involved, health care access, and more. We will continue to enhance Navi to be able to speak to more topics. At this point, Navi highlights institutional resources on each campus, along with some off-campus resources, including 24/7 crisis lines. In future phases, we will explore the possibility of including divisional- or college-specific resources. Navi is an informational tool for wayfinding, and does not provide advice, counselling nor does it make any diagnosis. If students would like to speak to someone, Navi highlights a suite of resources that students can connect with 24/7.
Navi will be linked from several institutional websites, including tri-campus student life webpages and is already live at

For more information on NAVI please visit the FAQ site at:

Contacts: David Newman, Executive Director, Student Experience
Student Life, St. George Campus

Kimberly Elias-Cartwright, Manager, Strategic Initiatives
Student Life, St. George Campus