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For years, universities have been implementing mental health programs without knowing exactly what works best, says youth mental health expert Stan Kutcher. The Dalhousie University psychiatry professor’s new three-year research initiative aims to fill this gap.
Announced this past November, Pathway through Mental Health Care for Postsecondary Settings Project will test the effectiveness of a specific mental health framework at five different postsecondary institutions –Mount Saint Vincent, Saint Mary’s and St. Francis Xavier universities, Nova Scotia Community College and Holland College in Prince Edward Island.
“What we’re trying to do is come up with a relatively simple integrated model, with some key components based on the literature of what might be helpful, link them together, and study them,” Dr. Kutcher says.
The framework has three components: mental health literacy, the training of key faculty in identifying mental disorders, and the enhancement of campus health care providers’ abilities to respond to mental health needs, Dr. Kutcher explains.
The researcher acknowledges, however, that no two institutions are the same. “We’re not creating a one-size-fits-all model,” he says, “We are creating an approach that has various components in it, and these components are designed to be modified by the campuses to meet their unique needs.”
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