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Press Release

Ontario university students use social media to boost mental health on campus via Mental Health 2.0 competition

Canada NewsWire

TORONTO, March 18, 2014 /CNW/ - University students are using social media to spark positive changes in mental health on campuses across Ontario through the Mental Health 2.0 student competition.

The Council of Ontario Universities (COU) announced the Mental Health 2.0 winners today at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). The competition – which received funding support from the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment – asked undergraduate and graduate students to use their social media prowess to create online campaigns that connect students with peers and promote mental health on campus.

Brock University's Cope-Care-Connect, headed by Community Health Sciences student Kaitlyn Kerridge, took the top prize. Second place went to the University of Waterloo's Stand Up to Stigma, organized by students Kristin Brown, Stephanie Lu and Suzie Alexander.

Third place was tied between the University of Windsor's Stacey Riddell and Michelle Gajewski for Community for 1st Year Post-Secondary Students with Social Anxiety; and Western University's Vitals Student Wellness Initiative, organized by students Kevin Dueck, Julian Surujballi and Daniela Kwiatkowski. The Vitals project also won a People's Choice Award.

"Students' mental health remains a top priority for Ontario's universities and Mental Health 2.0 is just one way universities are addressing it," says Bonnie M. Patterson, COU's President and CEO. "The knowledge gained around mental health will help students act as more informed and compassionate members of their communities."

The winners were selected from a list of ten finalists by a panel of experts in accessibility, mental health and social media.

"Contests like Mental Health 2.0 equip students with knowledge that allows them to act as engaged citizens on and off campus," says Alf Spencer, Director of the Outreach & Strategic Initiatives Branch of the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario. "It's encouraging to see universities continue to open up such positive spaces for the dialogue around mental health and accessibility."

The other six finalists in the 2014 Mental Health 2.0 Student Competition were students from the University of Ottawa, University of Toronto, University of Windsor, Wilfrid Laurier University, OCAD University and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. For a full list visit: Accessible Campus.

Winners received cash rewards of $1,500, $1,000 and $500.

Quick facts:

  • Young people aged 15 to 24 are more likely to experience mental illness and/or substance use disorders than any other age group.
  • Suicide is among the leading causes of death in 15-to-24-year-old Canadians, second only to accidents.
  • Once depression is recognized, help can make a difference for 80 per cent of people who are affected, allowing them to get back to their regular activities.

COU is a membership organization of 21 publicly assisted universities in Ontario. It works closely with the provincial and federal governments to shape public policies that help universities deliver high-quality programs for students and advance the research and innovation that improves the social, cultural and economic well-being of Ontarians.

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SOURCE Council of Ontario Universities

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