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Memorial for the win!

Memorial awarded first place in regional MoodCheck Challenge

Campus and Community

By Laura Barron

With 1,049 participants and 142,093 points, Memorial University won first place in the MoodCheck Challenge.

Memorial will receive a $1,500 donation to be used toward a campus mental wellness initiative.

Approximately 1,650 students from across Atlantic Canada participated in the MoodCheck Challenge from March 14-25.

Memorial’s St. John’s campus, Grenfell Campus and Marine Institute collaborated to compete in the challenge. A campaign to encourage students to participate began the week prior to the challenge, with various printed and digital materials describing the challenge, in-person outreach from student volunteers from the Student Wellness and Counselling Centre, and a launch event on March 15.

Katy Warren, a fifth-year student in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, also helped launch the challenge with a video, inviting students to participate.

Participating universities included Acadia University, Dalhousie University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Mount Allison University, Mount Saint Vincent University, NSCAD University, St. Thomas University, University of King’s College, University of New Brunswick and University of Prince Edward Island.

Check the app

For two weeks, students used the MoodCheck app to track their moods. Twice a day, at random times, their phone prompted them to check in and enter their mood, the activity they were taking part in, where they were and who they were with. Students gained points each time they checked in on the app, and gained bonus points the more often they checked in.

The aim of the challenge was to motivate students to be mindful about how the things they do affect the way they feel. This increased awareness is known to be a strong predictor of improved mental health and well-being.

“This challenge has shown us that students are ready to take ownership of their mental health.” — Dr. Peter Cornish

While the challenge was not a scientific study, the data revealed that students felt best when they were completing duties, such as working or doing chores (23 per cent), participating in quiet activities, such as relaxing or enjoying the outdoors (18 per cent), or using technology, such as playing a game or listening to music (19 per cent). Students felt the worst when they were worrying or feeling sick (35 per cent), completing duties such as studying or homework (29 per cent), or participating in quiet activities such as thinking or reading (13 per cent).

Memorial co-chair

The MoodCheck Challenge was initiated by the student mental health working group of the Association of Atlantic Universities (AAU), which is co-chaired by Dr. Peter Cornish.

“This challenge has shown us that students are ready to take ownership of their mental health,” said Dr. Peter Cornish, director, Student Wellness and Counselling Centre, Memorial University. “That’s what this is all about. The online environment is an exciting new space to make tools available to our university communities. There is so much room for growth and innovation in this area. There is much more to come.”

Presidential partnership

Dr. Gary Kachanoski, president and vice-chancellor, Memorial University of Newfoundland, and Dr. Eddy Campbell, president and vice-chancellor, University of New Brunswick, partnered to lead this challenge, and invited universities across Atlantic Canada to join them in this student mental health initiative.

“It’s encouraging that we had 10 universities participate in this challenge, and I believe this collaboration has set a foundation for continued partnerships on student mental health and wellness initiatives,” said Dr. Kachanoski. “We’ve identified student mental health as a priority at Memorial and, with our AAU partners, we’ve now established support for students across Atlantic Canada.”

“It has been heartening to see the response to the MoodCheck Challenge within our university communities,” said Dr. Campbell. “There is a greater awareness of the importance of mental wellness as part of overall health. Conversations around mental health are being pushed out of the shadows.”

Online tools

The MoodCheck app is part of a larger program called WellTrack, which was developed by Dr. Darren Piercey, a psychology professor at the University of New Brunswick. The program provides students with a number of online tools and resources aimed at helping them manage stress, anxiety, depression and some phobias.

More information about the MoodCheck Challenge can be found here.


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