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

Campus Initiative

From Intention To Action (FIT: Action) – MHIF (Round 2)

Project Summary:

From Intention to Action (FIT: Action) targets vulnerable students who are on academic warning for possible suspension, and/or self-identify as being “overwhelmed” with school and their lives. FITA has started a pilot project to target high school students in grade 12 (who do not otherwise qualify for disability service support). Students are referred by high school staff who feel that they need or could clearly benefit from having support for their transition to university.

FIT: Action is involved in an active training program with graduate students in the counselling program at the University of Ottawa that provides a valued 2-term practicum placement that adds to FITA program cost effectiveness. Each incoming student is matched with their coordinator using the MBTI to facilitate an effective therapeutic alliance.

The four main elements of the FIT: Action program are:

  • The students agreement to commit (12 weekly session minimum)
  • An assessment completed at intake (of academic and study skills, vocational interests, psychological screening inventory, and personality preferences)
  • Matching students with a coordinator with an emphasis on therapeutic alliance
  • Having a careful analysis of transcripts and audit

This innovative model is based on the findings of a seven year MTCU funded study that documents the successes of students with disabilities who are provided with a supportive framework. These findings have been adapted to troubled and vulnerable students. Our research from 2012-2013 shows that FIT: Action students entering the program with a poor quality of overall mental health in the fall, move to significantly improved well-being by the end of the winter term. Students also make significant improvements to Major and Overall Grade Point Average with a significantly lower suspension rate in relation to a matched comparison group.

Final products/goals:

  • Expand capacity to serve vulnerable students as well as prevent the development of more severe psychological problems, and manage crises as they occur.
  • Provide needed training to graduate students.
  • Develop a ‘vulnerable’ high school student intake model.
  • We will develop a program manual to replicate this model for other post-secondary institutions, provide training to interested institutions as well as participate in knowledge exchange activities and try to establish sustainable funding for this service.

Reports & Resources:

FIT: Action Manual

Project Website

Project Contact:

John Meissner

Psychologist and Manager of FIT: Action
Carleton University

Larry McCloskey

Director of the Paul Menton Centre for Students with Disabilities
Carleton University

David Smith

Faculty of Education
University of Ottawa

Petra Duschner

Psychologist and Manager of Mental Health and Critical Services, Ottawa
Carleton District School Board

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