Changing the Culture of Substance Use Project

In September 2012, the Centre for Addictions Research of BC (CARBC) in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association BC Division (CMHA BC) with funding provided by the Ministry of Health, launched the Changing the Culture of Substance Use (CCSU) Project within the BC Healthy Minds|Healthy Campuses (HM|HC) Community of Practice (CoP).

The ultimate goal of the project is for post-secondary students in British Columbia to experience and exhibit healthy relationships with alcohol and other substances within the context of a healthy campus culture. To help achieve this goal, the project aims to build local capacity among stakeholders at British Columbia’s post-secondary institutions and collaboratively develop new mechanisms of change to promote healthier relationships with alcohol and other substance use on campuses.  

View the CCSU Prezi presentation below to learn more about the project.

Project Overview

Changing the Culture of Substance Use is a project under Healthy Minds|Healthy Campuses that was made to develop capacity in BC’s campuses and a provincial support infrastructure towards changing the culture of substance use.  The lead partners of the project are the Canadian Mental Health Association BC Division (CMHA BC) and the Centre for Addictions Research of BC (CARBC).  

The project is based on a socio-ecological model that encourages a multi-component approach with attention to individual behaviours, social cultures and environmental conditions.  In Phase I and Phase II of the project, eleven post-secondary institutions have been actively involved.  Through consultations, knowledge exchange between campuses, and co-creation of evidence-based resources, the project is designed to facilitate action by campus change agents and a provincial infrastructure of support.  We are excited to continue the project in Phase III with additional funds provided by the Ministry of Health.  Collectively, changes on campuses across the province will contribute to the goals of the Ten Year Plan to Address Mental Health and Substance Use in British Columbia.  

Alcohol and other substance use present an important challenge for many BC post-secondary institutions in their aim to promote health and well-being among members of the campus community.  Evidence shows us that changing the culture of substance use is a complex but worthwhile undertaking that supports–and often involves–efforts around a broad array of goals such as policy development, individual intervention and community health promotion. 

Campuses involved in this project benefit from an enhanced ability to deal not only with substance use concerns, but also an expansive range of issues that are often associated with substance use and students’ mental and physical health in general.

Why Campuses Participate

Learning Community

Involvement in a Focused Learning Community

Participating campus community members experience a range of interactive and engaging activities designed to support learning around the identified focus for this project – substance use. Nested within the broader Healthy Minds/Healthy Campuses Community of Practice, this focused learning community constructed a learning agenda that has helped drive collaborative thinking and work related to campus substance use. The activities of this group align with the local realities of each participating campus, helping to ensure that the identified challenges and opportunities for change map closely on to the contexts of the campuses involved. Campus community members participate in face-to-face and virtual activities, learning from each other, while moving forward together in designing strategies and implementing the best thinking related to substance use.

Consultation & Facilitation

Access to Consultation and Facilitation

This project is resourced by a team of six from CMHA and CARBC. Each member of this team brings knowledge and experience in the areas of substance use, mental health, health promotion, and learning. This team has played an integral role in moving the project forward, providing content and resources, while helping to facilitate capacity development amongst participating campuses. There are opportunities for tailored consultation and facilitation processes at the individual campus level and also opportunities for campuses to experience consultation and facilitated processes with each other.


Co-Development of Approaches and Resources

A key area of this project is the development of approaches and resources that campuses can draw from in the area of substance use. Based on specific activity areas, the project team helps to co-develop approaches and resources with campuses, making them available for the learning community to pilot and use. These products are shared in a curated and online resource area that is also made available to the broader Healthy Minds/Healthy Campuses Community of Practice. We are working to co-develop resources that are responsive to the unique campus contexts involved in their development, while simultaneously being useful to other campus communities throughout British Columbia. For example, a campus might co-develop healthy policy in the area of availability and pricing of alcohol on campus. A product that might emerge from this process could include the policy itself, as well as a description of how to engage relevant stakeholders in a process that researches and produces effective policy in this area.

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