Today the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), in partnership with the University of Calgary, officially launched a new mental health training program for students, called The Inquiring Mind Post-Secondary (TIM PS).
Originally funded and developed by the University of Calgary, the pilot program began on eight campuses across the country and has now been picked up by another 20 post-secondary institutions purely on word of mouth. This desire for ending stigma and building student resiliency isn’t surprising, given that 75 per cent of mental health problems and illnesses develop between the ages of 16 and 25.
As campuses struggle to meet the burgeoning need for improved access to mental health care — for an increasingly savvy student population — TIM PS workshops offer easy-to-integrate information in a three-hour workshop that helps students understand their own wellness and develop coping mechanisms as they go through one of life’s major transitions.
Led by trainers who have taken a three-day course — anyone can be trained, from student union reps to residence dons — students are introduced to concepts like the Mental Health Continuum Model, which spells out levels of mental wellness on a simple colour scale, from green (healthy) to yellow (reacting) to orange (injured) to red (ill). By eliminating scary diagnostic language (and a wallet card as a hands-on reminder), TIM PS jump-starts help-seeking behaviours and fosters the kind of campus life where mental wellness is never a taboo topic of conversation.
Adapted from The Working Mind, an evidence-based program that offers the same principles to employees and managers, TIM PS was developed in collaboration with students, faculty, and staff with mental health-related experience. The training also equips participants to support peers who may be experiencing poor mental health through engaging activities and group discussions.
To date, 29 post-secondary institutions have committed to offering their students TIM PS workshops, with close to 4,000 students trained as of October 2019.
To learn more about TIM PS, visit theinquiringmind.ca
“I was in university when my best friend died by suicide. At the time, I was one of those rare students who got life-altering mental health support on campus. I know how crucial it is to erase self-stigma and talk openly about our struggles. Post-secondary institutions aren’t just places of academic learning, they’re also where we experience exponential personal growth. And learning to build resiliency and manage mental wellness is just as important as making the grade in literature or mathematics.”
— Louise Bradley, president and CEO, Mental Health Commission of Canada
“Our evaluations show that this program significantly increased participants’ resiliency skills. Not only does it equip students with the tools and skills to better support themselves, it also shows them how to look outwards, and support peers with their well-being.”
— Andrew Szeto, PhD, Director, Mental Health Strategy and Associate Professor, University of Calgary
“Every school has an orientation week. What better way to incorporate mental wellness into the culture and fabric of a school than with The Inquiring Mind training? It would set the tone for every incoming student that says, ‘Hey, we’ve all got mental health to look after, and here are some things you can do if you’re feeling overwhelmed.’ This shouldn’t be progressive — it should be the baseline.”
— Mike Pietrus, Director, Opening Minds and Mental Health First Aid Canada, Mental Health Commission of Canada
“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. Many students would benefit from [this training].”
— Matthew Baker, MA Applied Psychology Candidate, B.Sc. Kinesiology, Laurentian University
- 75% of people experiencing a mental illness report that their symptoms first began between the ages of 16 and 24.
- 13% of Canadian students have seriously contemplated suicide.
- 20% of Canadian youth will develop a mental illness by the time they’re 25.
Mental Health Commission of Canada
613-683-3748 / firstname.lastname@example.org
University of Calgary
403-220-4756 / email@example.com