With a name that also denotes acts of kindness in certain cultures, Navi helps to alleviate the stress a student might feel about finding what’s available more easily.
“This tool is one of many outcomes from the Presidential and Provostial Task Force on Student Mental Health,” says Sandy Welsh, Vice Provost, Students. “U of T students told us that they wanted a simpler way to access mental health information and services, and Navi is an important component of that. We want the members of our University community to know that support is always close at hand. With this tool, finding the appropriate resource is fast, user-friendly and completely anonymous.”
Navi uses IBM Watson Assistant, a virtual assistant that uses natural language processing to understand questions it receives and to provide accurate and relevant responses, making it available any time, anywhere. All a user has to do is click on the chat button and tell Navi what they need help with. From stress and anxiety to feelings of discrimination or loneliness and everything in between, Navi is able to help by quickly searching for and providing the user with contact information and direct links to U of T resources. This way, the user doesn’t have to know the name of the service in order to find what they’re looking for.
Confidential and highly responsive, Navi has been tested by students and staff, and is continually evolving to better identify the needs of each user. The University of Toronto is also proud to be the first post-secondary institution to use the IBM Watson Assistant tool to offer this depth of mental health support to its community.
“We’re very pleased to team with IBM and make use of their IBM Watson Assistant technology to help deliver this important tool to our students,” says Bo Wandschneider, Chief Information Officer at the University of Toronto. “Last year, we saw a demo of the work they were doing on mental health in the military and immediately saw the connection to the request from our community for better wayfinding. We’re excited to be rolling out a virtual agent that supports all the great resources at U of T.”
IBM has developed technology that can be installed on any of the University’s websites – making it widely available and adaptable. And at the end of September, every U of T student will have access to this ground-breaking service.
Navi is an anonymous tool that provides you with information to help you navigate mental health resources and make decisions about seeking appropriate supports. This tool is for informational purposes only and does not provide medical advice, counselling nor does it make any diagnosis or identify personalized treatments. Please do not provide any personally identifying or health information about yourself or anybody else when using this tool. If you have concerns about your health, please speak with your healthcare provider. If this is an emergency, please contact U of T My SSP at 1-844-451-9700 (or 001-416-380-6578 if you are outside North America), Good2Talk at 1-866-925-5454, or 911.
The virtual agent is a conversational tool that uses technological “learning” to respond to questions through an online chat. Leveraging IBM’s Watson Virtual Assistant platform, this tool can help you find answers to your questions and act as a wayfinding tool to connect you to the most appropriate mental health resources and programs at the University of Toronto and beyond. The tool can be accessed 24/7.
Navi has multiple meanings. It’s short for “navigator,” which helps describe what the tool is: a wayfinding resource that helps students navigate the programs, resources and services U of T has to offer. Navi is also means “kind to people” in many languages, which speaks to the culture of caring and excellence that the University identified as a goal in the recent Presidential and Provostial Task Force on Student Mental Health. This name was also chosen by students in a recent survey.
Navi is a virtual tool, available 24/7. The tool isn’t monitored, so it’s up to the user to decide when/if to connect to the resources (including 24/7 services) provided. The University reviews some of the chats where feedback was provided as a way to continue to train and develop the tool.
Throughout most conversations in the tool, there are links to resources that are available 24/7, where students can immediately talk to someone.
Navi has been developed by subject-matter experts at the University, which means that all responses have been curated and tailored to the U of T experience. Where Google responds with thousands of results, Navi highlights the most relevant services for U of T students.
No. Navi is a wayfinding tool and is meant to help students find the most appropriate face-to-face (or virtual/phone) resources. Navi also helps identify other tips, strategies, programs and resources.
Navi focuses on connecting students to mental health programs, resources and services. There are lots of factors and experiences that can impact your mental health, so you can ask Navi about a lot of things 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. Navi will be continually enhanced to be able to speak to more topics.
Navi provides a list of on- and off-campus resources and services, and will continue to be expanded and trained. Right now, institutional resources on each campus are suggested, but divisional resources aren’t. Off-campus resources are open and free resources, with many of them being 24/7 crisis support lines and support.
Yes. If you click on a number provided, you can call that number directly.
Yes. Many of the University’s resources and services have been tailored to support our learners from all over the world. This includes access to registrarial services, academic services and various health services. Some services are only available to students in Ontario/Canada, but they’re specified in the tool. You can always call the U of T My Student Support Program (U of T My SSP) 001-416-380-6578 if you’re outside North America and need access to 24/7 mental health support. U of T My SSP has immediate support available over the phone in 35 languages, and over chat in simplified Chinese, English, French and Spanish. Ongoing support is available over the phone in 146 languages.
Yes. Navi is for all students at the University of Toronto. Since Navi is available publicly, parents/families, and university faculty, staff and administrators can also use to the tool help identify resources and services for students.
We’ve worked with subject-matter experts at the University to identify topics, responses, resources and services for students. Each response has been curated and mapped to topics. If you don’t receive the answer you were looking for, use the thumbs up/thumbs down function to give us feedback, which will help to train and develop the tool.
The virtual agent isn’t currently voice-activated and needs to be manually selected in order for the conversation to begin. Once started, you can use a local speech-to-text program (e.g. speech keyboard on iOS) to interact with the virtual agent.
If you work at the University of Toronto and are interested in adding a link to Navi on your website, email Kimberly Elias at firstname.lastname@example.org.