Take a breather with the BreathingRoom
New program offers students an online counseling space where they can find support from others
Mount Royal University and The Canadian Institute of Natural and Integrative Medicine are joining forces, while MRU is continuing to tackle mental health issues on campus with Mount Royal’s President Task Force on Student Mental Health latest tool: The BreathingRoom.
Students can sign on to the program on www.mtroyal.ca/mentalhealth. It operates in a regular course fashion with modules that participants can complete at their own pace, as well as providing an opportunity for students to anonymously share with others – providing an online support group.
“Universities ask young people to make tough decisions all the time, and to handle a lot of pressure. Sometimes that pressure can feel overwhelming,” MRU President David Docherty said in a press release.
“BreathingRoom is available 24-hours, seven-days a week. It is an effective resource that supports the mental well-being and ultimate success of our students. This is the age for them to learn better ways of managing stress, how to navigate uncertainty and to lay the foundation to live a well and healthy life.”
But the program doesn’t just feel like another course, according to participant and first-year Information Design student, Orry Roth.
“It’s basically a virtual space that works module by module, which feature different topics for students to work through to get out of their stress and unhappiness and although in a way it is structured like a course, it doesn’t feel like homework,” said Roth.
He added the program is well-rounded and features a lot of topics that students can work through. For Roth personally, it helped him cope with his depression.
“It gave me a different perspective and in a way an attitude adjustment. It taught me things like the importance of carving out time for myself. I really wasn’t doing that.”
Roth said that resources like the Wellness Centre counseling services are great but that this virtual counseling space has a lot of benefits in its own way. Those benefits include the anonymity online, the ability to do it in your own home and the fact that it is multifaceted and can be easily accessed anywhere.
“One big focus of this being a virtual and accessible tool is that it is an alternative to prescribed drugs,” Roth said. “Where people may try to seek out those counseling or groups which can conflict with schedules, cost time and monetary resources, this gets the help out to people who need it — without needing to turn to prescriptions to fill the gap.”
Kandi McElary, Director of Wellness Services, said they are excited to release this program, which has taken a number of funders from organizations such as Alberta Health Services, RNC foundation, Trico Charitable foundation, as well as several private donors.“They have evidence that this program changes students lives. It helps them to see things differently. It actually changes their behaviors and it changes the way they feel.”
McElary added that while the program is complementary to in-person counseling, it is also a good stand-alone program for students in need.
“We recognize that we need to be thinking about ways in addition to our traditional ways that we have been offering services, like counseling, like medical services, where students come in and meet with someone,” McElary said.
Without the contribution of donors’ time and money, the program would not have been possible. McElary added there have been over 100 youth volunteers who helped make to program possible as well.
Students can apply to the program, with no costs to them, through www.mtroyal.ca/mentalhealth; click on BreathingRoom and follow the prompts.