Provincial mental-health fund supports new program to help students help themselves

HAMILTON, February 25, 2015: Do I game too much? Do I drink too much? Is my gambling out of control?

The questions are easy, but getting the right answers can be a challenge.

Soon, however, students will have access to information and assistance that will help them identify unhealthy habits and learn how to modify them. With nearly $900,000 from the Ontario government's Mental Health Innovation Fund, the Student Wellness Centre will launch the Arrive and Thrive program.

"Our governmentís mental health strategy, Open Minds, Healthy Minds, is committed to delivering faster, more effective community mental health services. McMaster's Arrive and Thrive program will close a critical gap in our community's mental health system by bringing support and counselling services directly to students on campus," said Hon. Ted McMeekin MPP, Ancaster Dundas Flamborough Westdale. "I am so proud of McMaster's students and Wellness team for coming together and starting an honest and thoughtful dialogue around mental health. This important initiative will make the McMaster community more vibrant and help us put the health and wellbeing of our students first."

The programís three-pronged plan includes hiring an addictions counselor, providing clearer pathways to campus and community counseling options, and establishing a website where students can investigate their own concerns and opportunities.

"With Arrive and Thrive, we want to promote positive and adaptive coping strategies, prevent addictive behaviours and offer youth-centered interventions for students," says Catharine Munn, lead psychiatrist at the Student Wellness Centre. "We want to close some of the gaps in service we currently have for students in transition to and those already at McMaster."

More than one third of all visits to the Student Wellness Centre are related to mental health, and a recent survey showed that more than 70 per cent of McMaster students say they would consider seeking the services of a counselor.

"We're seeing more and more addictions issues, which is a trend on campuses across the country," says Munn. "This program gives us more of the tools we need to help students avoid and overcome addiction and find success in academics and in life."

Munn and the team at McMaster engaged a number of community partners in the Arrive and Thrive project, including the Boris Centre in Addiction Studies, the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, the Hamilton Family Health Team, the St. Joe's Youth Wellness Centre, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and Alternatives for Youth.

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For more information or to book a TV interview from the campus studio, please contact:

Wade Hemsworth                                          

Public Relations Manager            

Office of Public Relations

McMaster University                                               

905-525-9140 ext. 27988

hemswor@mcmaster.ca

Michelle Donovan                                          

Public Relations Manager             

Office of Public Relations

McMaster University                                               

905-525-9140 ext. 22869

donovam@mcmaster.ca