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

Campus Initiative

Bridging The Distance – MHIF (Round 1)

Project Summary:

Cambrian, Canadore, Confederation, and Northern Colleges along with an unofficial partnership with Sault College, cooperated on a pan-northern project that aims to improve mental health awareness in our college communities while supporting learners with mental illnesses. The consortium members each face similar Northern, Ontario challenges of geography, access to resources, and a unique and diverse student body.  Each partner took a lead role in developing one pillar of the Bridging the Distance project and all partners collaborated in the development, evaluation and implementation at each of the colleges.

This project developed a ‘northern relevant’ website www.bridgingthedistance.com with portals intended for students, staff and peers, designed to be a professional and easy to navigate site providing the necessary resources and information for immediate assistance for individuals experiencing mental health concerns or distress across the north.  The site also acts as a portal of information including training materials, methods for early detection of students with mental health issues, a model for Peer-to-peer mentorship including materials developed in concert with the Canadian Mental Health Association and a model for distance counselling/advising.

Key Outcomes:

  • Completion of the website to bridgingthedistance.com.
  • A model developed to promote effective distance advising and counselling across satellites including a Best Practice Toolkit including research to support development of an appropriate prototype, including identification of liabilities, best practices from other jurisdictions, recommendations to improve current practices, and effectiveness monitoring was completed through the Northern Ontario Assessment and Resource Centre.
  • Staff training modules including videos, ideas and approaches for staff, administrators and faculty. Suggestions for policy development are provided as well as resources for:
  • How to effectively identify and engage students who may have mental health concerns.
  • Strategies for identifying and responding to students in distress.
  • Knowledge transfer of available resources to refer student to most appropriate assistance.
  • Knowledge and understanding of the scope of practice for Counselling and Advising Services on campus.
  • Understanding of student’s human rights confidentiality policies
  • Peer-to-peer mental health training developed in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association – Cochrane Timiskaming branch. The production of a mentoring training manual, resources and approaches to campus peer services are inclusive.

Reports & Resources:

Framework for Setting Up Campus Support

Toolkit for Setting up distance counselling-Advising

Draft Policy for PSE Mental Health Policies & Procedures: Developing a Framework

The Student Peer Mentoring Program:

Project Contact:

Colin Kelly

Director Research
Confederation College

Rachel Gillespie

Director
Glenn Crombie Centre for Student Support, Cambrian College

James Lees

Counsellor
Confederation College

Kim LaPierre

Team Lead, Student Success Services
Canadore College

Nichole Roy

Student Advisor
Northern College

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