Award-winning mental health program helps first-years build resilience
A unique mental health program developed at UTSC to assist first-year students with the transition to university is expanding thanks to funding from the province.
Flourish, a strength-based intervention program that helps students identify and cope with stressors in their life by strengthening resilience skills, has received $225,000 over two years from the Ontario Ministry of Training of College and Universities’ Mental Health Innovation Fund.
“It’s alarming that the majority of students with a mental health illness do not receive treatment through our current health-care system due to stigma or services that do no address their unique experiences,” says Tayyab Rashid, the program’s director.
“Flourish is meant to help break down some of the barriers that exist to students who are in need of support.”
There’s a need for outcome-based mental health programs for students, says Tayyab Rashid. Studies show that a staggering 17 per cent of Canadian students report feeling so depressed that it was difficult for them to function, while another 21 per cent cite overwhelming anxiety.
Flourish takes a proactive approach by identifying individual strengths, stress levels and triggers as well as academic habits and stressors through a confidential online assessment. Students are then referred to appropriate workshops that build emotional, physical and academic resilience by showing them how to use their personal strengths to manage stress, improve well-being, and ultimately enhance their academic performance.
Students are also connected to on-campus professionals who can help them develop their individual strengths. These can range from sessions with a trainer from Athletics & Recreation; a meeting with a learning strategist or career counsellor confidential and free individual counselling from the Health & Wellness Centre; or a one-on-one meeting with a faculty or staff member.