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Tuesday, May 12 • 11:35am - 12:05pm
Mental Health and Wellness Initiative at the University of Victoria

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In my session, I will share with participants an exciting new mental-health and wellness initiative that I launched at the University of Victoria in October 2019. UVic Bounce (www.uvic.ca/bounce) is an initiative that provides critical early-stage resources to support student mental health and to help students thrive. Through videos in which alumni and faculty speak openly about their successes and failures during their own university experiences, students are able to reframe their struggles and challenges as a normal and important part of their university experience. By normalizing and de-stigmatizing conversations about the difficulties that students face and by disrupting the discourse of success that tends to shame students and keep them isolated, UVic Bounce hopes to make it easier for students to share their struggles and to seek the support that they need. Our stories connect us and can transform our university communities. Faculty member's participation in this initiative is particularly disruptive and transformative; by sharing personal challenges from their own university days through this intimate video series, faculty members disrupt narratives of shame and help students to understand that the difficulties they face are not meant to be faced alone and that they are a part of compassionate community who supports them.

At the 2018 BC Campus "Festival of Learning," I presented a session ("Learning to Bounce: Teaching Resilience in the Undergraduate Classroom") in which I shared the work that I had been doing since 2014 to build UVic Bounce. Now that this initiative has launched, I would value the opportunity to share this initiative more widely with those working in higher education in BC so that they might be able to build similar initiatives on their own campuses. Campuses must transform to meet the needs of students who are experiencing unprecedented levels of stress, anxiety, and depression related to everything from moving away from home, to academic pressures, to social expectations. Without intervention, the weight can be overwhelming and can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions that can negatively affect academic performance.

Universities have the opportunity to intervene at an early stage to help prevent crisis-level mental health conditions by changing the way we understand and talk to students about the struggles they face. If we create a community of support that includes _all_ members of the university community, we can help students before they become overwhelmed, and build positive coping skills that will change the course of their academic journey.


Rebecca Gagan

Rebecca Gagan is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of English at The University of Victoria.

Tuesday May 12, 2020 11:35am - 12:05pm PDT
Ballroom 2

Attendees (2)