Male freshmen are particularly vulnerable to substance misuse linked to mental ill health during their first year at university. Research shows they experience more stressors during their transition from family life to independence, and are more likely to use substances to relieve stress, anxiety, or depression. This may place them at higher risk for mental health problems, mental illnesses, suicide, and substance abuse disorders.
Researchers at Queen’s University—Heather Stuart, Shu-Ping Chen, and Terry Krupa —were recently awarded more than 1.7 million dollars by Movember Canada, to mount a mental wellness program targeting first year freshmen. The goals are to reduce risks associated with mental ill health and substance misuse and create a more supportive campus environment for male freshmen. The program will be piloted at Queen’s University, then expand to University of Calgary (Keith Dobson) and Dalhousie University (Michael Teehan and Sherry Stewart). The project is funded by Movember Canada.
The program will help students learn about mental wellness and safe substance use patterns; will correct misperceptions about substance use norms; and promote student – driven and led activities to raise awareness of the importance of early identification and intervention. Opportunities for active engagement and dialogue will be a central component.
1. Remove gender as a barrier when reaching out to support
People of all genders face struggles and concerns in regards to their mental health. We also know that it can be especially more challenging for men to ask for help when they need, so we are working to create a campus without stigma or barriers so everyone can achieve their own mental wellness. We want to re-define the phrase “Man Up” such that manning up does not simply mean trying to hide and ignore their feelings; rather, to have the courage to connect with others in times of need.
2. Promote Safer Drinking
We know that drinking can be a big part of socializing in university and for some, alcohol might be a way of coping with poor or declining mental health. We want to talk about drinking in a way that doesn’t result in harm to yourself or those around you. We are NOT about stopping drinking, it’s all about harm reduction.
3. Connecting Students
University can be overwhelming and between classes, work, and worrying about your future, you might feel pretty alone. We are here to tell you that YOU ARE NOT ALONE! We want a campus where people can connect to those around them and we are trying to create those circumstances. Come check out an event and connect with others!