Mental Health month underway
Reporting of issues less stigmatized than ever
|#MRULetsTalk encourages conversation over social media regarding student mental |
Mental well-being is an area of continuous focus at Mount Royal University. With knowledge of the detrimental effects of poor mental health to overall well-being, there is a dedicated effort to keep mental health at the forefront of the campus community’s mind.
In addition to the services available on campus, such as student counselling, a mental health nurse and physicians, MRU has been engaged in many other initiatives to encourage conversations about mental health and reduce the negativity with which it is often associated.
“Through a systemic approach, MRU community members have come together to support individual and campus well-being,” says Kandi McElary, director of Wellness Services.
New data collected in the winter of 2016 from the National College Health Assessment (NCHA) survey allows MRU to further understand the mental health needs of students. In regards to mental health, there has been an increase in the number of students who are reporting being treated for a mental illness, and also an increase in the number of students reporting they would seek help from a mental health professional if in the future they were having a personal problem that was really bothering them.
Rachelle McGrath, Healthy Campus Lead in Wellness Services notes that, “this hopefully is indicative of MRU creating a safe and inclusive environment where mental health concerns and illness are increasingly de-stigmatized.”
In 2016, 48.9 percent of students reported that a mental health issue, such as anxiety or depression, had a negative impact on their academic performance in the last year, up almost six per cent from 2013. The number of students reporting they had seriously considered suicide within the past year also rose, from 8.9 percent in 2013 to 13.1 percent in 2016. However, the amount of students who said they would seek help if they had a problem also rose in 2016 to 78.4 per cent.
Current and upcoming initiatives for student mental health
President’s Task Force on Student Mental Health
was created to bring students, staff, and faculty together to positively impact student mental health on campus and to create strategies to accomplish this. 2015-2016 was the third year of MRU implementing recommendations from this report. To date there have been over 30 recommendations successfully implemented on campus, several of which are highlighted below.
Peer to Peer Mental Health Leaders
Launched in the fall of 2015 based on a recommendation from the PTFSMH, the Peer to Peer (P2P)
Mental Health program is in its second year. The P2P program is comprised of student leaders on campus who are passionate about reducing stigma surrounding mental illness through education and awareness events. These leaders assist with both events put on at the institutional level and develop their own.
Students interested in joining the P2P team can fill out the application form here.
The Headstrong Conference, put on by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), came to the MRU campus on Oct. 4. Headstrong invites youth from Grades 7 to 11 to explore and confront mental health stigma and take back initiatives to their school communities that promote positive mental health and better understanding. The Iniskim Centre and Wellness Services invited young Indigenous, Métis and rural students to our campus for this event.
Movies for Mental Health
Wellness Services has collaborated with Art with Impact to bring Movies for Mental Health to campus this year. On Oct. 5 from 4 to 6 p.m. in Lincoln Park Room, student-made clips from across the nation will be viewed and discussed in an open forum. This free event aims to open up conversations about mental health in a safe space to increase understanding and awareness.
National Depression Screening Day
National Depression Screening Day (NDSD) utilizes a free and anonymous online questionnaire that screens for indicators of depression. While this is not a diagnostic tool, it indicates if someone it recommended to seek further evaluation. NDSD is on Oct. 6, 2016, and the questionnaire is available online here.
Check out Main Street from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for an event promoting this tool.
The Working Mind/The Inquiring Mind
Informed by another recommendation from the PTFSMH, these two workshops are being offered on campus to staff, faculty and students. The Working Mind is intended for employees and it aims to support the mental well-being of staff and reduce stigma associated with mental illness. The Inquiring Mind is a version of this training, but is intended for students. These workshops will be offered throughout the year by trained staff and student facilitators. Keep an eye on the mental health website
for future workshop dates.
The A,B,C’s of Helping and Faculty Options for Responding to Students in Distress
The A,B,C’s of Helping is training for students who are in positions to support their peers, increase their knowledge of mental health and practice communication skills. The training is a combination of online learning through Blackboard followed by a face to face workshop. This resource helps students become more competent in recognizing and responding appropriately to students. A similar learning opportunity has been created, piloted, and is now being offered for faculty and instructional staff. Faculty Options for Responding to Students in Distress is a workshop designed to support those in a teaching environment to be aware of and options available to them for responding to students in distress.
#MRULetsTalk encourages conversation over social media regarding student mental health issues. Happening again in January of 2017 to coincide with the national Bell Let’s Talk campaign, #MRULetsTalk aims to open up the conversation with our students around mental health in person and online.
Additional funding has been provided from a variety of sources including the Government of Alberta— Addiction and Mental Health Grant, Alberta Blue Cross and a private donor to support the multiple approaches taken to impact well-being.
MRU's Ask a Counsellor blog
Students can anonymously submit questions related to personal, educational, or career concerns to the MRU Ask a Counsellor blog.
Each week, an MRU counsellor selects a question, gives a response, and posts the entry. For information only, the blog is meant to initiate conversations among students and create connections that will lead to healing, building resilience, and living the life you want to live.
Oct. 5, 2016 ― Healthy Campus Team