Postsecondary student mental health initiative extended to Mount Allison
3/21/2017 11:38:23 AM

Pathways eventThe Medavie Health Foundation is partnering with the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation (NBHRF) to bring a student mental health initiative led by Dr. Stan Kutcher, a renowned expert in adolescent mental health, to New Brunswick.

The expansion of Pathway through Mental Health Care for Postsecondary Settings will ensure postsecondary students in New Brunswick will have access to improved mental health literacy and on-campus mental health care.

“We’re so pleased to see the expansion of this initiative, which is aimed at ensuring students receive the right support at the right time, from building resiliency to manage their everyday mental health on campus to providing access to care for those with a mental illness,” says Medavie CEO Bernard Lord. “This aligns with the way we think about health care at Medavie and an example of a different kind of care — one that begins on campus in helping young people stay in school and live their best lives.”

Pathway through Mental Health Care for Postsecondary Settings will build on proven youth mental health components to create, evaluate, and disseminate a comprehensive and effective campus mental health framework. It will be field tested at Mount Allison University, joining Pathway test sites at five postsecondary campuses in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. The framework has the potential to expand to other New Brunswick campuses and could serve as a model across Canada and internationally.

Pathways - Bernard LordCurrent approaches to campus mental health in Canada are fragmented. Many lack evidence of effectiveness and are often focused on mental health awareness and promotion rather than improving mental health literacy and access to care. Smaller institutions may face additional challenges in developing and implementing effective evidence-based interventions.

“Mental health-related interventions on many campuses are often driven by enthusiasm and hope. Some of them may work, some may not and some may have unintended consequences,” Kutcher says. “We wish to build on this energy of change and hope for better futures, and underpin it with evidence for what works so we can have comfort that what is being done is achieving the outcomes needed. This project will help us in that quest.”

About 70 per cent of mental disorders can be diagnosed before age 25, with postsecondary education populations at highest risk for the onset of these illnesses. The most common high-volume, low-intensity mental disorders of this group include depression, anxiety disorders, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. This is also a period of risk for substance misuse and addiction.

“Our students’ mental health and wellness is a top priority,” says Dr. Robert Campbell, Mount Allison’s President and Vice-Chancellor. “We are delighted to be part of this fantastic program, which will increase our capacity to understand our students’ needs and help us to adopt the most effective programs and initiatives to help them.”

The Mount Allison component of the project includes a new two-year assistant-professor faculty position in the field of mental health and counselling, supported by $50,000 in funding from NBHRF. Medavie Health Foundation has committed a total of more than $680,000 in support of the Pathway initiative.

Photo caption: From left, New Brunswick Health Minister Victor Boudreau, Mount Allison student and event MC Emilie Comfort, Medavie CEO Bernard Lord, NBHRF Board Chair Monique Imbeault, Mount Allison President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Robert Campbell.