Students help students with new mental-health resource

December 15, 2021 at 1:11 pm  BC, News, Politics

Post-secondary students will be better equipped to help their peers struggling with mental-health concerns, thanks to a new, free educational resource B.C. students helped design.   

“Now more than ever, the support that our friends and peers provide can be the helping hand we need to get us through stressful times,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “This new resource provides training to students to increase awareness and understanding of mental health, so students can learn how to support their peers who may be struggling. I applaud the students who contributed to this resource. We must all support our own and each other’s mental health, and these students are leading by example.”

Starting a Conversation About Mental Health: Foundational Training for Students was adapted from a University of British Columbia resource and provides foundational mental-health and wellness information that helps post-secondary students respond to peers experiencing distress. Funded by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training, the open educational resource (OER) was developed by an advisory group of students, staff and faculty across the B.C. post-secondary system under the leadership of BCcampus.

“Connecting with someone who has had similar experiences can make all the difference for students,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Recognizing and understanding stress is so important for mental health and wellness. I hope that these materials encourage students to reach out to their peers who are struggling and make powerful connections.”

The training incorporates Indigenous perspectives on mental health and wellness. It also includes scenarios written by post-secondary students to support students on how to respond with empathy to peers who are struggling with stress and anxiety related to finances, balancing school and child care, academic pressures, discrimination and other diverse realities.

“I wanted to be involved in this project because like so many others, I have struggled with mental health in the past,” said an anonymous student participant. “I wanted to contribute my unique voice as a Métis woman in order to help those who are currently struggling and to give others the tools to help. Mental health is a fascinating, vitally important and often misunderstood or overlooked topic in society. It felt incredibly rewarding to be a part of this project, and it left me with a renewed sense of knowledge, sensitivity and confidence.”

The training is free and accessible to post-secondary institutions, facilitators and students. It can be added to existing mental-health and wellness programs or stand alone as a new support service. 

“The nine dimensions of the wellness wheel are a creative visualization that brings much-needed clarity, focus and balance to our lives,” said Mary Burgess, executive director, BCcampus. “This adaptation, based on work completed by the University of British Columbia, shows how an OER is a malleable, flexible model that improves with use. We’re grateful to the ministry for its support on this essential resource, and we look forward to seeing how faculty and students use this to bring value to their institution.”

Quick Facts:

  • With the help of BCcampus, the Province has provided other educational resources to the post-secondary system, including:
    • Capacity to Connect: Supporting Students’ Mental Health and Wellness; and
    • Let’s Talk about Suicide: Raising Awareness and Supporting Students.
  • These resources are in addition to Here2Talk – a 24/7 mental health support service available to all B.C. post-secondary students.   

Learn More:

To access the facilitator’s guide to Starting A Conversation About Mental Health: Foundational Training for Students, visit: https://opentextbc.ca/studentmentalhealth/

To learn more about BCcampus and other mental health training programs, visit: https://bccampus.ca/

To learn more about the key principles that guided the development of this training and other mental health and wellness education programs, visit: https://opentextbc.ca/mhwframework/chapter/six-key-principles/

A backgrounder follows, with what students are saying about Starting a Conversation About Mental Health: Foundational Training for Students.

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