Easing the post-secondary transition

Easing the post-secondary transition

February 5, 2015


The Regional Assessment and Resource Centre (RARC) at Queen’s University along with the Northern Ontario Assessment and Resource Centre (NOARC) at Cambrian College recently secured funding from the provincial government’s Mental Health Innovation Fund (MHIF) to develop a specialized program for students with mental health issues who are transitioning to post-secondary education.  

Marie McCarron, Clinical Services Manager, and Alison Parker, Transitions Co-Ordinator, discuss the Successful Transition Online and Mentoring Program that the Regional Assessment and Resource Centre at Queen's University is developing. 

The Successful Transition Online and Mentoring Program (STOMP) will be available at no cost to Grade 12 students in the Kingston and Sudbury areas beginning March 2016.

“Many students beginning their post-secondary education may be reticent to seek the support they require for a successful transition because of the stigma surrounding mental illness,” says Marie McCarron, Clinical Services Manager, RARC. “The online curriculum and peer mentorship offered by this new program aims to break down those barriers to vital resources.”

STOMP is modelled on RARC’s long-standing and proven On-Line to Success transition program (OLTS), a primarily web-based course designed to help students with learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) transition to post-secondary education. Like the OLTS program, the new program will help students with mental health issues build their self-advocacy skills, develop learning strategies specific for post-secondary education, and learn more about services available at the post-secondary level.

RARC and NOARC will develop the program over the next several months working closely with local school boards, local mental health organizations, the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS), and Dr. Kate Harkness, a Queen’s psychology researcher and practitioner.

In March 2016, the first iteration of STOMP will begin in Kingston with up to 30 secondary school students attending a two-day session at Queen’s. They will meet other students in small groups moderated by trained teacher-candidates from Queen’s Faculty of Education. The secondary school students will also listen to panel discussions by current university students with mental health issues and meet with a psychologist to review their learning profile.

The students will also complete an online course and receive a comprehensive mental health assessment to help them successfully transition to life at university or college.  Mentoring from course moderators will continue throughout their first year.  

STOMP is the latest project involving Queen’s partners to receive support from the Mental Health Innovation Fund. Queen’s has created the M2 Peer Mentoring Program, which matches specially trained upper-year student mentors with students who are experiencing mental health problems or disabilities. Additionally, Queen’s and St. Lawrence College are developing province-wide documentation standards and guidelines for accommodating students with mental health disabilities.