Maxine Myre | June 5, 2014
Overwhelming amounts of schoolwork.
Difficulty balancing school, a job, family, and friends.
Pressure to succeed academically.
These are only a few of the factors that can contribute to stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health struggles for students.
Kathleen Moore, a PhD student at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, researches how technology can be used to provide information about mental health, as well as support for students with mental health difficulties.
Post-secondary students already have access to a variety of face-to-face options for information and support. But Moore sees tremendous opportunity to supplement counselling and peer-support services with technology, especially for populations that are not comfortable using face-to-face options.
“As an example, for graduate students specifically, the stigma surrounding mental health and the possibility of seeing some of [their] students in the [counselling] office may cause them to not use those types of resources,” Moore says.
Digital strategies look different at every institution. In a poster presentation given at Congress 2014, Moore described some initiatives that are currently in place or developing at universities in Ontario.
Several universities, for instance, have modified their website’s homepage to make mental health resources easily available to students, staff, and faculty.
Another focus has been the development of online learning modules, which participants can work through in order to gain more knowledge surrounding mental health and available support.
“Mindsight,”developed by Wendy Stanyon, an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, is an online learning module that aims to reduce stigma by promoting awareness and understanding of mental health. The module also provides resources and coping strategies for people facing mental health challenges. Online learning modules at the University of Toronto and Queen’s University are providing similar services.
Whether it’s using Twitter to provide information about available counseling hours, or having an online peer-support group, social media is also providing new, relatable avenues for students.
Naturally, mobile devices are also playing an increasingly important role.
Several apps launched about mental health do things such as help people chart moods, manage coping skills, or connect to sources of support. “It will be interesting to me to see whether that’s something a school might tap into in the future,” says Moore.
The next steps are to determine if students are aware that these online resources exist and to see if they are being used effectively.
“It’s a constantly changing area. There’s new stuff coming out all the time,” says Moore.
For more information about e-mental health, check out these resources:
- “E-Mental Health in Canada: Transforming the Mental Health System Using Technology” – The Mental Health Commission of Canada
- “e-Mental Health” – The Mental Health Commission of Canada
- And remember that if you or someone you know may be experiencing a mental health-related issue, help is also available on your campus.
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Deborah Durbin | January 12, 2015On January 1st many people set bold exercise goals for themselves as part of their New Year resolutions. Come Valentine’s Day, though, most of those goals have fallen by the wayside, tossed aside along with empty heart-shaped candy boxes. read more »
Let shopping be your ...
Noreen Fagan | December 18, 2014Here’s a fun fact – Canadians eat more sushi than the Japanese. At least that’s what Mark Cleveland says, and he should know. Cleveland is a professor of marketing at Western University. His research focuses on the integration of cultures on a global scale and the effects of cosmopolitanism, which according to Cleveland is, “the cultural openness and the ability to successfully navigate between different cultural groups.” In other words, people who want to understand and experience other cultures do so by fully immersing themselves in that culture. “You want to live the life of cultural authenticity, by trying to understand the culture through that culture’s eyes,” he says. Cleveland’s interest in cultural openness started when he was a Master’s and then a Ph.D. student at Concordia University in Montreal. He started researching how new immigrants, primarily ethic minorities, adapted to Canadian culture by finding ways to combine their traditional identities, culture and values into mainstream society. “I have always believed that just because you learn another culture does not mean you give up the original culture. You can be bicultural or multicultural and the two can reinforce each other,” says Cleveland. “Not only are minorities affected by cultural exchange but the majority are as well.” Canada’s multiculturalism prompted Cleveland to extend his research into globalization, with a focus on how global cultures affect majority populations around the world. In the last decade Cleveland has conducted research in 15 to 20 countries exploring cultural exchange and cosmopolitanism. He says a person no longer has to travel abroad – although it helps – to become cosmopolitan. A person can experience different cultures in the comfort of their own home or neighbourhood, simply by watching TV, surfing the Internet, playing videos on You Tube or buying and consuming different products. “When we buy products, and types of brands and the reasons for buying them, they are like extensions of ourselves,” he says. So how do the sushi–eating Canadians fit into all of this? Cleveland believes if a person wants to experience cultural authenticity they will gear their shopping towards achieving that aim. In other words, a person is not going to go for the North American version of sushi (think Californian Roll), when they can get the real thing – think Unagi. He says there is probably a general global trend towards cultural openness as people become more educated and have more exposure to other cultures but he warns, there is another side. “A lot of people are really opposed to what is happening with Globalization and they see their culture as under threat,” says Cleveland adding that the threat is heightened when people feel insecure. If people are feeling secure in their surroundings (financially, emotionally and physically), the more open they are to cultural exchange and the more cosmopolitan they become. Being cosmopolitan however, does not mean buying local is a thing of the past; in fact what makes cosmopolitans stand out is that they strive for cultural authenticity. “The more cosmopolitan you are means you are not only interested in preserving differences but also interested in the environment, like getting the best locally,” says Cleveland. In terms of cosmopolitanism Cleveland thinks Canadians are more accepting of other cultures. “We are a new country, most of us go back two or three generations and have one or two grandparents born somewhere else. We have a more fluid identity,” he says, adding that as large cities go, Toronto is well integrated. “We are not just living in these areas dominated by our own ethic group, there are more opportunities to mix, and I think that allows us to become more open-minded.”