Helping Ontario's colleges and universities enhance capacity to support student mental health and well-being

Campus Initiative

A Campus Wide, Evidenced-based Approach to Addressing Postsecondary Student Mental Health – MHIF (Round 1)

Project Summary:

OCAD University and Ryerson University have embarked on a creative partnership together, collaborating around the development of best practices in campus mental health strategy.

Key Outcomes:

OCAD U is using design thinking as a participatory process to gather input and to understand students’ experiences with mental health on campus in order to inform the mental health strategy. We are also using art as a community engagement tool to raise awareness about mental health and to reduce stigma on campus.

  • We hosted three Open Dialogueevents for students, faculty and staff, and the general public to share their insights on experiences and what mental health might look like on campus. For those wishing to remain anonymous, we gathered information through surveys.
  • In January, 2014, we hosted Spectrum:A Vision for Mental Health that showcased over 30 works of art, including paintings, sculptures, videos, and performance art. The aim of the event was to empower students to share their experiences in creative ways and build a community committed to advancing mental wellness on campus.
  • With OCAD University’s Strategic Foresight and Innovation Graduate Program, masters students conducted a service design project to map out how Health and Wellness Centre can better meet students’ needs.
  • We are also in the midst of starting a Student Workload Project to determine what role student workload plays in the overall mental well-being of our students. The Student Workload Project will explore the relationship between student workload and mental health, and make recommendations regarding curriculum and pedagogy with the potential to improve mental health without compromising academic rigour or integrity
  • Random Acts of Imagination:The ‘Random Acts of Imagination’ working group of the OCAD U Mental Health Steering Committee, supports the design and delivery of simple interventions/projects at OCAD U that promote positivity, happiness, creativity and health.
  • Dialectical Behaviour Therapy Groups:Health and Wellness Services started offering an evidence-based therapeutic practice called Dialectical Behavior Therapy in response to an identified need among students to enhance emotional coping skills.
  • A Peer-Support Training Program based on evidence-informed models is being developed to give students the skills they need to support one another

Key Reports and Resources:

  1. Completed a Campus Mental Health Policy Report In collaboration with Ryerson University as a part of Campus Mental Health Partnership, we published Policy Approaches to Post-Secondary Student Mental Health: A Scan of Current Practice in April 2014 with the aim to support institutional policy development and review around student mental health by providing a scan of policy approaches in post-secondary institutions across Canada and the United Kingdom.
  2. Completed the Campus Mental Health Training Report
  3. Supporting Students In Distress Package:We designed a package on how to support students in distress. The package consists of:

Project Contact:

Jennifer Robinson

Clinical Director of Health & Wellness
OCAD U

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