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PROSocial initiative at Dal to help student’s mental health on campus

Your first year at Dalhousie can be hectic, scary, and downright fun all at the same time.

There are movements and initiatives in all walks of campus life trying to help you adjust in every way you can imagine.

That being said, at times adjustment to university life and its difficulties becomes more pertinent when under the pressures of school and keeping a social life.

The PROsocial movement at Dal is here for you, whether you are dealing with mental health issues or substance abuse, this group has a great deal of time and energy to help you out. PROsocial  is a student led initiative at Dalhousie which received a grant from the Movember Foundation.

The movement’s essential goal is to provide information and awareness of accessible resources to students who may be facing these mental health problems or substance abuse issues.

“We are really trying to raise awareness of how to deal positively with mental health concerns by making students aware of resources on campus, and to ensure that when they use substances to have a good time that they… use substances responsibly,” says Craig Moore, the Site Coordinator for the Caring Campus Project.

While Moore’s job is to provide research findings to the students who are leading the initiative, it is really in the hands of the students to organize and create new events for the campus population.

One of the new events organized for campus this year is the first Defeat Depression walk/run event that will be held on Friday, October 7th in front of the Henry Hicks building on Dalhousie’s main campus.

While the event will feature people speaking to those gathered and a time to share stories with each other, the event is special in that it will also try to raise funds for the movement.

“Funds raised will go back to the PROsocialProject and other student groups on campus who need funding to put on events for students related to mental health,” says Moore.

Dal's PROSocial team
Dal’s PROSocial team

Also being held through the 2016/2017 academic year are the movement’s Speak Easy events. These events feature local artists, and poets, and focus on providing a safe space for people to talk about their thoughts surrounding mental health issues. Moore says that the first event went extremely well and that students can go down to Coburg Coffee, where the events are held, and look at a live painting that was completed at the first meeting.

“Students should expect a sampling of spoken word performances, local musicians (our first event featured Talea, and Lucas Reeves), as well as panel speakers – some of them have lived experience with mental illness,” says Moore.

Through the new tools developed and provided by the Caring Campus project at Queen’s university, Moore and his colleagues were able to present some staggering facts on student life.

“Our recent Fall 2015 survey showed that only 56.5% of new first year students reported good to excellent mental health, and only 57.5% reported that they thought students knew where to go to get help for mental health problems,” Moore said when asked about the main goal his movement was trying to tackle.

“We are really trying to raise awareness,” he said, “Our Fall 2015 survey of first year students showed that only 44.5% (of) students knew where to go for help for a substance use problem. Related to substance use, and alcohol specifically as our area of focus, 45.4% of first year students reported drinking alcohol more than occasionally, however students reported that they thought other students drank 2-3 times per week (62%) which is a lot more than occasionally, so part of our job is also correcting this misperception about how frequently other students are actually drinking.”

The PROsocial movement is looking for volunteers to help out with their events this year. If this is something you might be interested Moore says students should seek out the movement on social media or contact someone who is involved directly.

“Get involved, and get to know your campus. There are a lot of great opportunities for new students to get involved in making the campus a better space to talk openly about mental health and substance use,” said Moore.

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