Health sciences initiative helps Brock students Cope Care Connect

Brock Community Health Sciences student Besra Mohamed is part of the Cope Care Connect mental health program.

Brock Health Sciences student Besra Mohamed is part of the Cope Care Connect mental health program.

The numbers are startling.

A survey of 1343 Brock students found that about 60 per cent of them felt overwhelmed when they started this term. First year or fourth year, there was little difference in the numbers.

For a third-year health sciences class, led by Prof. Kelli-an Lawrance, it was confirmation that something needed to be done to help students through challenging times.

So the class has launched Cope Care Connect, a month-long, online and face-to-face campaign targeting first-year students, though available to everyone, to make them aware of the mental health resources available to them on campus. The campaign is in partnership with Student Health Services and supported by the student life fee.

“A lot of first-year students are disconnected,” said Stephanie Klok, a health sciences student involved in promoting Cope Care Connect. “The resources are here but they don’t know they’re here. We’re also trying to de-stigmatize accessing them.”

Through information tables, a website, YouTube and Facebook page, students are encouraged to share their experiences, good and bad, learn effective ways to cope with the demands they face, and find other positive sources of help and inspiration right here at Brock.

Contests are also being held to inspire random acts of kindness to help boost the spirits of others while leaving those committing the kind actions feeling as though they’re contributing to the betterment of the Brock community.

It’s those simple things that can change a student’s course, improving grades and even keeping them from dropping out of school, explained student Hailea Squires, who’s helping Klok promote the campaign.

“Everyone feels like a failure at some point in their university lives,” Squires said. “Not everything goes as planned. Rolling with the punches is what resilience is and that’s what we’re trying to inspire.”

This isn’t the first time that a class of Lawrance’s has tackled an important issue hands-on. In the past, classes have hosted health workshops for first-year students and have presented educational displays at Brock’s annual health fair.

Cope Care Connect, however, is the biggest project yet that students in this particular course, program planning and evaluation, have taken on.

In all, the class was divided into 11 committees, taking on different roles and responsibilities to make Cope Care Connect happen. Lawrance said she’s excited to see how her students have combined their theoretical knowledge with their own personal understanding of student life to develop Cope Care Connect.

“The students have put an amazing amount of work into planning this project,” Lawrance said. “They are extremely dedicated to the issue of student well-being, and are determined to make the Brock community a healthier place for their peers. They are an impressive group.”

To learn more, a Cope Care Connect table will be set up Feb. 26-27 and March 5-6 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Mackenzie Chown A Block hallway.

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