Vitals is a student run initiative to promote wellness in all years of undergraduate medical training. Centralizing campus and community resources, hosting workshops and raising awareness to support students in all the dimensions of wellness. Students weren’t aware of the supports available and were only using them when already in crisis. We wanted to provide resources for those crisis situations, but also how to recognize when other students are in crisis. We want to encourage use of the resources and being proactive about your wellbeing, before a reaching a state of crisis. The project also aims to help combat the stigma of seeking help for mental health or other struggles and stresses. We have had a few students drop down or that felt the need to drop out due to stresses, personal or family.
After recruiting other students interested in addressing the needs of the students the project was fleshed out and started through the help of an OMSA Innovator Grant. Since that time we have met with established groups on campus addressing student wellness and student development. We have also consulted with the Physician Health Program to define the scope and determine appropriate resources for the project.
A lot has happened in the months since the project was started. We were involved in the mental health day of O-week. Delivering safety and support cards to all incoming students along with a message about the importance of student wellness and a brochure about the project. In the fall we hosted workshops on study skills and mindfullness with workshops on crisis identification in others and physician addiction booked for this term. The component centralizing resources, our website has launched westernvitals.ca and is receiving very positive feedback.
The site is divide into 4 sections, life, school, wellness and crisis. Life matters focuses on issues outside of school, such as buying a car or food preparation. School matters deals with academic adjustments to medical school, finding your way around campus, finances or ways to get involved. Wellness deals with personal care; physical, spiritual and social. Crisis targets issues that are not often talked about openly in medical school, from substance use to assault and depression.
Moving forward we plan on applying for a CPHI grant in April 2014 in order to host a weekend event, bringing in speakers and running workshops focusing on student mental health. The lectures being recorded for utilization by students/faculty across the country. We also plan on presenting the project as a template of a successful student run wellness initiative through multiple venues including our CFMS wellness officer. Currently, we are a finalist in the Ontario wide Mental Health 2.0 competition which focuses on promotion of mental health on campuses. http://mentalhealth20.ca/vote includes a list of the finalists.