Conestoga news

February 21, 2014 8:54 AM

Government of Ontario provides support for new mental health initiative

A new project now underway in Conestoga's School of Health & Life Sciences and Community Services will build awareness and expand mental health support systems for Ontario post-secondary students.

The project, supported by a $122,000 grant from Ontario's Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, will develop innovative approaches to service delivery that address existing gaps in mental health services and improve outcomes for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It will include knowledge-sharing around best practices that will allow all the province's post-secondary institutions to benefit from the findings.

According to Janos Botschner, co-principal investigator and chair of Community Safety at Conestoga, students with ASD often experience a feeling of isolation that impacts their social and academic success. The new project will include the development of screening tools to promote the early identification of affected students as well as the creation of mindfulness-based supports that will assist those students in their efforts to address negative behaviours and become more positively self-aware.

By increasing awareness of ASD and providing effective support systems for students, the program will help individuals feel valued within the school community and contribute to their academic and social success.

Conestoga's Accessibility Services and Counselling Services departments, along with Conestoga Students Inc., will contribute to the project which will be fully launched by Fall 2014.

"We're working together to leverage all the great work we're doing to make all our campuses mental health friendly for students - that's really the focus." Botschner said.

When the project is completed, findings will be shared across the province's post-secondary system in order to expand mental health support systems for all Ontario students.

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Story by Laurie Snell, second-year student in Conestoga’s Print Journalism program.