Screening and supporting students with depressive symptoms within a health and counselling service

Ask the Experts: CICMH Webinar Series

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Listen to our conversation with several experts from McMaster University’s Student Wellness Centre as they share their experiences implementing a pioneering depression initiative on campus that has been guided by a college initiative in the United States called the “National Collaborative Depression Project.”

Key Learnings
  • Shear about lessons and experiences gained from a pilot project which introduced a screening and proactive monitoring program for students with depressive symptoms.
  • Discuss processes and methods that can be used to improve the quality of mental health care in a health and counselling service.
  • Share some of the potential challenges and benefits of implementing quality improvement initiatives in post-secondary health and counselling settings.
Presenter Bio

Dave McLeod, M.D., C.C.F.P.

Family Physician, Student Wellness Centre (SWC), McMaster University

David is a Family Physician and Engineer with a diverse 35-year career spanning the fields of management, medicine and engineering. He is currently practicing medicine at the Student Wellness Centre at McMaster University and is Assistant Professor and a Longitudinal Facilitator in the McMaster School of Medicine Professional Competencies program. In 2012 he was a recipient of the McMaster University’s President Award for Outstanding Service and Teamwork along with his colleagues in the Student Wellness Centre.

Catharine Munn, M.D., F.R.C.P.(C)

Lead Psychiatrist, SWC, McMaster University

Catharine Munn is the Lead Psychiatrist at the Student Wellness Centre at McMaster University where she has practiced for 10 years. She works closely and collaboratively with family physicians, counsellors and community mental health services in Hamilton. She teaches in the McMaster Family Medicine and Psychiatry Residency programs. More recently, she has been appointed co-lead of the McMaster Student Mental Health and Well-being Strategy and is particularly focused on building opportunities for and use of research and policy related to emerging adults in the post-secondary sector. She is the lead on a recently acquired Mental Health Innovation Fund Grant called “Arrive and Thrive”, which is designed to improve adaptive coping and reduce maladaptive coping, particularly addictive behaviours, in students entering and studying at McMaster.

Debbie Nifakis, EdD

Associate Director, Counselling, SWC, McMaster University

Dr. Debbie Nifakis is the Associate Director of Counselling at the Student Wellness Centre at McMaster University. She is a Registered Psychologist in Ontario who has worked at various University counselling services over the past 35 years. She has been on the counselling staff for twenty-six years and the Counselling Director for the past 10 years. Dr Nifakis is also the current Director of the Clinical Behavioural Sciences Program and is an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences and teaches in various programs of the Faculty of Health Science, including Medicine, Bachelor of Health Sciences and the CBS program. She has been the recipient of numerous teaching awards as well as two President’s Awards of Excellence for Outstanding Service for the CACUSS Conference Planning Committee in 2006, and for her work at the Student Wellness Centre in 2013.

Other Depression Initiative Champion Group Members:

  • Deb Earl, Mental Health Nurse, SWC
  • Jillian Halladay, Nursing Student, Database Manager, SWC
  • Rosanne Kent, Director, SWC
  • Jan Young, Family Physician, Medical Director, SWC

The National Collaborative Depression Partnership
A website out of New York University that contains information about the partnership and the quality improvement approach to improving care for depression in college health and counselling settings.
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The Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT)
CANMET outlines evidence-based, Canadian recommendations for treatment of mood and anxiety disorders and is a particularly excellent resource for addressing psychopharmacology.
View Website

Mental Health Issues and the University Student
A book by Doris Iarovici, which addresses mental health issues on US college campuses, includes scenarios/cases and helpful discussions about possible approaches.
View Website

The Antidepressant Generation
An article by Doris Iarovici
View Article

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