Incorporated in 1960, Laurentian University is a mid-sized bilingual university in Greater Sudbury, Ontario. Laurentian is noted for going to great lengths to ensure success by providing a range of academic and social supports for their diverse population, ensuring students acquire a strong foundation that meets the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.
A bit of a background
In 2017, Lucie Gelinas accepted a position with the University as Manager, Counselling & Accessibility Services. One of her main focuses in the new role was to find different ways to provide help and support to students in order for them to develop a stronger base of knowledge when it comes to coping and resiliency.
As Lucie was looking into different options for students, she attended a Centre for Innovation in Campus Mental Health Conference (CICMH) in Toronto, where she first heard Dr. Andrew Szeto speak about The Inquiring Mind Post-Secondary (TIM PS) program. This training immediately sparked her interests, as she felt topics such as the mental health continuum model and coping strategies would positively impact student mental health. Following the Conference, Lucie returned to Laurentian and presented the program to their Director of Student Life.
After this presentation, it was clear members of the University supported students taking part in this type of training. With buy-in from faculty as well as University staff, Lucie could sense this training was needed.
Time for training
Beginning in October 2018, Laurentian University started rolling out the training to interested participants from around campus. They immediately trained 4 staff members from Counselling and Accessibility Services through the Train the Trainer course, two faculty members, another University Manager, a staff member from the Student Transition and Engagement team, and a member of the Indigenous Sharing and Learning Centre. Along with these participants, Laurentian invited staff members from other institutions to come take part in the course, which resulted in 6 staff members from other institutions around Ontario travelling to Sudbury for the training.
After completing the 3-day training, TIM PS Trainers started offering the program to interested groups around campus. Departments such as the Nursing Faculty as well as Residence Life were excited to take part in the course, and have inquired about having their entire departments trained. As of August 2019, Laurentian has trained over 100 students in TIM PS and they look forward to training more this coming year.
A post-training survey conducted by The Inquiring Mind revealed the following results:
- 93% agree the program increased their understanding and comfort with mental illness and mental health problems in a educational environment
- 100% agree they can use this information in an educational setting
- 100% agree they can use this information in other areas of their life
- 86% agree they learned new information about mental health, mental illness and resilience
Comments about the training:
“Please keep offering this wonderful program in the future! Programs like these, especially in the educational setting, can really make a difference in a student’s current and future quality of life. In addition, programs like these are how knowledge of mental health can be acquired and shared throughout the student community. A sincere thank you to all the instructors! Great job!”
- Laurentian University, TIM PS Participant
“I thought the workshop was a great learning experience for learning how to reduce stigma and not only avoid mental illness, but promote mental health. I thought it was particularly good to encourage students to seek help before they are in significant distress. I also thought providing actual strategies from the facilitators and other participants to help reduce school stress was extremely helpful, and many students would benefit from it. “
- Matthew Baker, MA Applied Psychology candidate, B.Sc. Kinesiology, Laurentian University
“I found that the workshop helped me to see my own illness in a different light since the stigma associated with it often produces a feeling of being out of touch with society. Also, it provided ways to speak about this to those who are struggling and either have no one to talk to or are too afraid or embarrassed to look for help. Additionally, it was enlightening in that it spoke about the differences between Mental Health and Mental Illness which shows that anyone is vulnerable to Mental Illness if their Mental Health is neglected.”
- Nikola Argirovski, Second year student in the Indigenous Studies Program, Laurentian University
This school year, Laurentian looks forward to opening up TIM PS training to all students, and will be promoting the program during Orientation week in order to encourage registrations. Through focus groups and workshops targeted to TIM PS participants, they hope to continue having the important conversations about mental health on campus.