Depression treatment goes online
New project to tackle university’s No.1 health issue as in 2010 NCHA
Depression often gets written off as just a part of life or something you have to get through on your own, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Dawne Clark, a professor in Child and Youth Studies at Mount Royal University, said depression is a critical issue for students.
“(Depression) was the number one thing that Mount Royal students indicated in terms of health and well-being that was a concern for them,” she said, referring to the 2010 National College Health Assessment, which elicited 1334 responses from MRU students.
Of the respondents, 10.6 per cent reported feeling depressed within 12 months of taking the survey. Mount Royal reported a higher level of depression when compared to 9.7 per cent of the test group of 95,712 students from 139 schools.
Clark said it’s not necessarily that Mount Royal students are more depressed than University of Calgary or SAIT students, but that “it’s a really difficult time of life. It’s just hard being a young person.”
That’s why the LEAP Project was started.
The project comes from a team of health care professionals, educational experts and evaluation specialists, including Clark, who wanted to look at new ways to help young people overcome depression.
It’s led by Sabine Moritz, director of research at the Canadian Institute of Natural and Integrative Medicine.
Moritz described the project as an online depression program for young people where they could engage in a variety of self-paced activities for 2.5 hours a week over an eight-week period.
“It provides tools to foster self-acceptance, handle change and adversity, discover purpose and nurture personal growth,” Moritz said.
The online program is a form of treatment that allows the receiver to overcome their depression from the comfort of their home, a far cry from the sometimes intimidating hospital setting. Clark said students professed a need for the program during early testing.
“The students said, ‘We really need this. This is something that we can go home and sit in our own room and we can do this all by ourselves. Nobody else needs to know that we’re feeling this way or that we’ve reached out to try and get some help,’” Clark said.
“It makes it a safe thing to do because you don’t have to let everybody know you’re doing it.”
Both Moritz and Clark said their main aim is to get more students and young people to try the project, including Mount Royal students.
“We’re trying to get more students to do the pilot, so that we can get more comprehensive feedback,” she said.
Clark also hopes to hold a depression screening at Mount Royal, likely in March. “We’ll actually have medical personnel to talk to them and do a little bit of a screening,” she said.
The LEAP Project is currently being tested in Calgary with young people aged 13 to 24 years old. Mount Royal students interested in finding out more about the free study can go to leapproject.com.