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Queen's mental health experts lead national study

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

Queen’s University mental health experts Heather Stuart (Centre for Health Services and Policy Research and Public Health Sciences) Shu-Ping Chen (Public Health Sciences) and Terry Krupa (School of Rehabilitation Therapy) have received $1.7 million from Movember Canada for their latest project, The Caring Campus: An Intervention Project. The multi-institutional project focuses on substance abuse, reducing the stigma associated with substance misuse and creating a more caring campus.

Along with physical health, a focus of Movember is also men’s mental health.

 “We want to help first-year male students manage their basic health,” says Dr. Stuart. “Patterns of drinking are established right from their first week at school so we want to get through to them right at orientation. There are about 2,000 male students coming to Queen’s every year and we want this to become part of the orientation.”

The Caring Campus team will work with researchers at Dalhousie University and the University of Calgary on the new program. Part of the project includes a substance abuse continuum model adapted from the Department of National Defence that students will be able to use to check their state of well-being by self-assessment. The model will also be developed into a smartphone app.

“I think giving them the correct information will help,” says Dr. Chen. “Many first-year students have the wrong idea when they come to university in regards to the amount students drink. They think everyone drinks to excess and that’s not true. But that is the standard they feel they have to live up to.”

Along with developing this new model, Dr. Stuart and her co-researchers will hold a series of summits with first-year male students and invite in speakers who have had similar issues. The goal is to provide support and create a caring campus.

“There is a positive energy at Queen’s right now in terms of support for mental health issues,” says Dr. Stuart. “I want to harness that energy which will support students right from the first day at Queen’s.”

For more information on The Caring Campus: An Intervention Project visit the Movember website.