This month, Memorial is launching two free online mental health support programs for the university community.
Mindful MUN, a campaign to encourage use of these supports, begins on Monday, March 6.
MUN Listeners is a peer support service which trains students, faculty and staff to become active listeners online so they may help students in need of support. The program is free, anonymous and confidential.
The service also offers students an opportunity to connect with a supportive person and engage in text-based, one-on-one conversations. This program is not a mental health crisis resource and listeners do not provide therapy.
“Our aim is to help members of the Memorial University community build on their strengths with new resources.”
For MUN Listeners, there is no prior requirement to be trained as an active listener. One may simply sign up to be a listener and then receive active listening training to become qualified to provide active listening support.
Benefits for all
Dr. Peter Cornish, director, Student Wellness and Counselling Centre, says that offering support to peers has been proven to benefit both the listener and the support seeker.
“Mental health is an important part of everyday life and these tools will help our university community receive support and practice mindfulness in an accessible and flexible way,” said Dr. Cornish.
“Our aim is to help members of the Memorial University community build on their strengths with new resources. We know university is challenging. Facilitating wellness on our campus is about helping students not only survive their academic programs, but learn the tools they need to thrive in their lives.”
The Mindwell 30-Day Mindfulness Challenge encourages students, faculty and staff to undertake mindfulness training for 5-10 minutes per day.
“The goal of this challenge is to help the university community experience less stress, more joy and peak performance in academic and professional settings,” said Dr. Cornish.
“Maintaining mental health is an important part of our well-being, and evidence suggests that mindfulness training helps to improve stress, resilience and performance.”
“We encourage our Memorial community members to find creative ways to support and motivate one another during this challenge.”
This university-wide challenge will launch on Monday, March 6.
“We’re excited to make this truly a campus-wide initiative, including staff and faculty, as well as students,” said Dr. Cornish. “We encourage our Memorial community members to find creative ways to support and motivate one another during this challenge.”
Challenge participants will have free access to the MindWell program, which aims to make mindfulness fit into busy schedules with practice sessions that are brief and accessible anywhere.
“Accessible and engaging online mental fitness programming is a key component to Memorial University’s unique Stepped Care 2.0 mental health model,” said Dr. Cornish.
“Just as we know that fitness is important for the entire population, research has shown that low intensity mental-health programming can be effective for everyone — those with and without psychiatric illnesses.”
Brad Yetman, graduate research assistant and co-lead of MUN Listeners at the Student Wellness and Counselling Centre, believes students should participate in Mindful MUN to see an increase in their overall well-being, and to encourage more conversation about mental health.
“Mental health and increasing students’ well-being is an important concept in university life, and we as a university family need to make a stronger effort to help each other,” said Mr. Yetman. “The MUN Listeners program is an easily accessible way for a student to talk to an active listener, just by simply downloading an app on their mobile device.”
The program gives students a less formal way to talk about anything that is bothering them at any point throughout the day. With a less formal avenue to have a conversation about mental health, Mr. Yetman expects there to “simply be more conversation.”
“Also, students who use MUN Listeners to chat are also encouraged to become listeners. Anybody can be a good active listener if they choose to be.”
5-10 per day
Mr. Yetman also says Mindwell is another good way to get people thinking about their well-being on a daily basis, and that it will give people the tools they need to handle stressful situations in different ways.
“If it is simply one person who notices a major change after the 30 days, then that makes me happy with our work.”
Students can expect to spend about 5-10 minutes a day completing daily challenges. Mr. Yetman hopes that, at the end of the challenge, students, faculty and staff will have acquired new resources to lower stress levels, engage in everyday mindfulness and feel increased overall well-being.
“We certainly want to reach as many students, faculty and staff as we can, no matter their backgrounds or current situation, to try and give them these resources. But, if it is simply one person who notices a major change after the 30 days, then that makes me happy with our work.”
If you are a student, staff or faculty member who is interested in training to become an active listener, you can do so here.
Listener Password: mun_listener
If you are a student who would like to chat with an active listener, you can do so here.
If you are a student, staff or faculty member who is interested in signing up for the Mindwell 30-Day Mindfulness Challenge, you can do so here.