Poster Presentations

PP1Using Adjustment Factors as Correlates of Well-being for Masters Students

Prior research linked successful adjustment into new educational environments with positive mental health; thus, this study enriches on that body of research by focusing on graduate students’ mental health during their first year of a thesis-based Master program. Our study used a three-phase assessment model that allowed for primary and secondary information to provide a comparison since no prior contextual data was available. Data included a literature search, stakeholder consultations, and interviews with students. Factors informed by the literature and students were sorted into four adjustment categories: academic, social, emotional, and practical. Our poster presentation goes into more detail around the factors identified in each category. Many of the student factors matched those found in the literature; however, one notable difference was that social support was emphasized by students as the most salient factor for successful adjustment and overall mental wellness. As such the University should pay special attention to creating programming and supports that fosters social wellbeing and social networks among graduate students.


Juanita Gnanapragasam | University of Alberta BIO

PP2Imposter Syndrome: The Universal Feeling Few Are Talking About

Anxiety, depression and chronic self-doubt are some of the many factors that contribute to students shying away from academic opportunities in fear of failure. Among university students, one major contributor to these feelings of poor well-being is Imposter Syndrome (IS) – the negative assumptions people make about their success and competence. While IS is estimated to affect 70% of all people, only 25% of people are aware of its existence. Therefore, IS is rarely mentioned on university campuses which negatively impacts students experiencing it. This poster presentation will analyze the factors that heighten a student’s risk of developing IS and label IS behaviours. Additionally, this poster will include suggestions for new initiatives that will raise student awareness on the topic at an individual level which will indirectly improve campus wellbeing. Through this research and suggestions, I hope to break the silence on this universal feeling.


Maria Peddle | Carleton University BIO

PP3The COVID-19 Student Support Network: A Low Barrier Support Intervention for Students on Campus

In light of the global pandemic, post-secondary students are facing many new challenges in addition to an already stressful transition. Campus-based service providers were struggling to meet demand for support resources even prior to the current context of having to pivot to virtual care provision models. Now more than ever, creative solutions are needed to bridge the gaps between demand for relevant supports to help students manage the transition and available resources. The combination of peer-to-peer social support and digital platforms allows for an efficient and scalable means to provide support to students struggling with the transition to virtual education. The COVID 19 Student Support Network is a virtual peer-to-peer support service designed by a student for students without the traditional barriers of a waiting list or appointments. Originally launched in Atlantic Canada, the service is now available to post-secondary students across Canada.

Stacie Smith | FRAYME BIO
Travis Sztainert | FRAYME BIO
Catherine Willinsky | FRAYME BIO

PP4Mental Health Literacy Training Strategy: The Silver Lining

Mental health literacy (MHL) enhancement is an evidence-based intervention strategy for promoting mental well-being. (Kelly et al., 2007)

Engaging in a collaborative, evidence-informed planning process, the University of Waterloo conducted formative evaluation, considered existing resources and political preferences and initiated development of a comprehensive, coordinated, accessible, proactive, and sustainable MHL training strategy for employees and students.

The strategy encompasses a three-pronged approach to develop MHL competencies:

  1. Mental Health Literacy Training Certificate Program: The Certificate Program is currently being developed and may be composed of tiered trainings to enhance mental health literacy.
  2. Continuous skill enhancement through Communities of Practice (CoP): Existing Communities of Practice (e.g. Wellness Collaborative CoP) may be utilized for providing the campus community with opportunities to enhance skills and knowledge obtained through the trainings.
  3. Embedding MHL into existing processes: A step taken to embed MHL in existing processed is through incorporating a MHL goal statement in the University of Waterloo strategic plan. Other ways to do this are being currently explored, e.g. offering training during orientation, embedding training expectations into job descriptions, performance evaluations etc.


Kalpita Gaitonde | University of Waterloo BIO

PP5Using the PSSI to Improve Mental Health Services on Campuses

The Post-Secondary Student Stressors Index (PSSI) is an instrument developed for students, by students that evaluates 46 stressors by severity and frequency of occurrence across five domains: academics, learning environment, campus culture, interpersonal, and personal stressors. The PSSI was designed to help institutions pinpoint the areas most in need of improvement on their campuses and improve the tailoring of mental health promotion and mental illness prevention efforts. In Fall 2020, the PSSI will be launched at multiple universities across Canada to observe whether there are regional differences in the stressors students experience. This poster presentation will demonstrate the utility of the PSSI, engage stakeholders in conversations regarding the perceived impact of the tool, and encourage its use at all Canadian post-secondary institutions.


Jake Rose | Queen’s University BIO

PP6Passionate about Mental Health

Let’s look at those days that many people don’t want, or can’t, talk about. Or when those individual days turn into a week, month or year. What do you do to take care of yourself or the ones you care about? Let’s look at implementing strategies, planning change and how-to rollout mental wellness initiatives.


Jennifer McLean | Thinktum Inc. BIO

PP7Implementation of 36 Recommendations Supporting Post-Secondary Student Mental Health

The Committee on Student Mental Health (CoSMH) at the University of Waterloo was formed in April 2018 to implement 36 recommendations supporting student mental health. The committee includes stakeholders from across campus, as well as external partners, to support realization of the recommendations. Since its inception, 61% of the recommendations have been completed and the remaining are in progress.

Recommendations cover several key areas, including campus policies and practices; inclusive and supportive campus culture; mental health awareness and communication; prevention and early intervention; service access and delivery; and campus-wide mental health matters. This poster highlights the partnerships and actions taken to complete a diverse selection of recommendations, such as adoption of the Okanagan Charter, mental health literacy training and promotion, establishing a research event, and implementing complex case management strategies.


John P. Hirdes | University of Waterloo BIO
Jerrica Little | University of Waterloo BIO

PP8Implementing Peer Support Programs in Post-Secondary Institutions

Peer Support programs are increasingly seen as an essential part of any comprehensive suite of on-campus mental health programs. Students can access these programs to gain support for their mental health or assistance navigating the various on and off-campus resources. However, with different potential models of peer support to choose from, different ways to train peer supporters and various modes of delivery and program promotion– it can be difficult to choose a model that suits an institution’s specific needs.

This presentation will cover the basics of peer support programs at post-secondary institutions. The focus of our conversation will go through the development of the Peer Support Program at the University of Toronto, St. George campus. We will address the initial program’s development and consultation, training choices, as well as the challenges of developing a comprehensive virtual Peer Support program in during COVID-19. You can  learn more about the very first University of Toronto St. George Peer Support program here:


Pratik Nair | University of Toronto BIO
Mariana Paz-Solden | University of Toronto BIO

PP9OUSA’s Student Mental Health Advocacy

The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) represents the interests of approximately 150,000 professional and undergraduate, full-time and part-time university students at eight student associations across Ontario. Over the past several years, we have advocated to the provincial government for improvements to student mental health—an issue that has become even more important as students continue to struggle with isolation, anxiety, and other concerns during COVID-19. Our recommendations include a ‘whole of community’ approach, dedicated funding for community-based health care providers, and a K-12 curriculum that emphasizes resilience and coping skills.

This poster features information about these advocacy priorities, as well as student-driven solutions from our Student Health and Wellness policy. You’ll also find a preview of OUSA’s 2020 Ontario Undergraduate Student Survey, a biennial survey that typically receives 8,000-10,000 responses from students across Ontario. This year’s iteration, set to run in November, will include questions aimed at learning more about the mental health issues that students face and their experiences accessing support services on and off campus.


Ryan Tishcoff | Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance BIO

PP10Student Mental Health Experiences Transitioning into Post-Secondary: A Scoping Review

Strategies to support student mental health transitions into post-secondary settings must engage student voice and build on lived experience in order to be successful. This poster presentation will discuss the results of a recent scoping review on the perspectives of youth with mental health concerns transitioning into post-secondary settings. This scoping review identified key themes in the transition process identified by students, including: change in living and learning environment, challenges managing illness independently, challenges managing medication, challenges navigating new systems of care, and loss of social support. These themes can be used as an opportunity to best address the concerns identified by incoming students with pre-existing mental health concerns.


Dr. Kristin Cleverley | University of Toronto BIO
Emma McCann | University of Toronto BIO

PP11Going Virtual: Health Promotion during COVID-19


Agnes Hsin | University of Toronto BIO
Kasthuri Paramalingam | University of Toronto BIO

PP12Strategies Supporting Mental Health Transitions into Post-Secondary: A Scoping Review

Up to 75% of mental illness has its onset prior to age 18 and therefore a large proportion of youth are likely transitioning into post-secondary settings with a pre-existing mental illness. Identifying interventions that effectively support students is crucial; however, research to-date has focused on outcomes of counselling or academic support for students once on-campus (but not interventions to support transition into post-secondary settings). As such, a scoping review was conducted to synthesize existing literature on interventions to support youth with pre-existing mental health and/or addiction concerns as they transition into post-secondary. This project is the first of its kind and generated new insights for researchers and practitioners alike. This poster will outline the 3 interventions and 8 strategies identified, including the setting, components, and success of each of these interventions and strategies.


Dr. Kristin Cleverley | University of Toronto BIO
Emma McCann | University of Toronto BIO

PP13The University of Ottawa’s Stepped Care Model

The University of Ottawa Counselling Services proposes a collaborative approach to student mental health and wellness that minimizes barriers and maximizes support and services while promoting a caring campus community. Based on the reality that PSIs are struggling to meet the growing needs of students facing challenges, an integrated model emerged. The uOttawa Stepped Care Model, inspired by a Tiered Approach, Student-Centered and Universal Design for Learning framework, offers students seven different options providing rapid access and improved outcomes. The implementation of this sustainable model of care has resulted in tailored services to meet students’ individual needs, enhanced service delivery capacity as well as eliminating waitlists, and streamlining pathways to care in the community.


Geneviève Brabant | University of Ottawa BIO
Isabelle Hodak | University of Ottawa BIO
Saverio Mirarchi | University of Ottawa BIO

PP14Recovering not Condemned: The Lived Experience of Students with Mental Health Concerns

Emerging research demonstrates institutional policy can threaten student well-being, hinder their ability to recover from mental health challenges and be costly to institutions. This poster will present the lived experience of students with mental health concerns, how they come to understand themselves in post-secondary institutions and ways in which their mental well-being is threatened or nurtured. Innovative strategies, informed by doctoral study, will provide a context to engage in a critical appraisal of current institutional policies in hope of building brighter futures for students where belonging and connection on campus is a priority. 


Carmen Hust | Algonquin College BIO