Olds College to help students’ mental health

Olds College students will soon have access to an Internet-based program to help them stay mentally healthy. BreathingRoom is an eight-module program that students will be able to access at any time online.

Olds College students will soon have access to an Internet-based program to help them stay mentally healthy.

BreathingRoom is an eight-module program that students will be able to access at any time online.

In 2013, Olds College students took part in a National College Health Assessment that revealed about 14 per cent of Olds students seriously considered suicide and four per cent actually attempted suicide.

As well, 56 per cent of Olds College students felt hopeless, 93 per cent felt overwhelmed, 65 per cent felt very lonely, 70 per cent felt very sad, 43 per cent felt so depressed that is was difficult to function, 52 per cent felt overwhelming anxiety, and 74 per cent of students did not seek the help of a professional.

About 10 per cent of Olds College students took the survey, said Karla Petersen, senior development officer at Olds College. The results for Olds College are quite similar to the national average, she said.

Petersen worked with the college’s mental health team and wrote the proposal to seek funding for BreathingRoom. The Royal Bank of Canada Foundation donated $10,000 to the college for the online program. Olds College is an iPad-based school and the funds will cover the cost of the app for one year.

“With this BreathingRoom what’s really great is not only does it help the students who are having a really hard time, it helps students who are also thriving at school because it starts to teach them how to build more resilience into their life. And it helps them know that a hard time or a bad test score or any of that stuff really isn’t the end of the world,” said Petersen.

Olds College students will be able to access the BreathingRoom program in the next month or so, she said.

Those who have completed the program have described higher energy levels, increased motivation, reduced feelings of anxiety, guilt and frustration.

“It also helps teach students kind of what a normal level of feeling anxious is, what a normal range of some of these things is and maybe what’s going beyond normal, and gives them that knowledge to go and speak to someone and seek out counselling,” Petersen.

Olds College is only the second post-secondary institution in Canada to offer the program.

Mount Royal University in Calgary began to offer it a year ago.

The RBC Foundation money was presented to Olds College by Jean Reichenbach, branch manager of RBC in Olds, last week.

barr@bprda.wpengine.com

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