East Lansing, Michigan
July 26, 2020
July 26, 2020
July 28, 2020
This paper documents a work in progress at the University of Windsor to expose our first-year students to mental health supports available on campus. The University of Windsor prides itself on being a leader in providing wellness and mental health services to its students as part of the institution’s comprehensive, multi-year Mental Health Strategy (http://www.uwindsor.ca/studentexperience/322/mental-health-strategy). As well, within the Faculty of Engineering, many new initiatives have been implemented to provide mental health services to our students, especially first-year students who are transitioning to university and, for some, to Canada. One such initiative is Therapy Assistance Online (TAO). TAO is an online library of interactive modules that helps students learn skills to handle challenges in their lives (http://www.uwindsor.ca/engineering/831/tao). TAO is available to all University of Windsor students; however, not all students use the service. In order to encourage Engineering students to use it, first-year students are introduced to TAO in their second-semester Technical Communications course. A course assignment asks students to complete four of the five modules within the Communication and Interpersonal Relationships TAO pathway. The five modules are: Managing Anger, Communication Strategies, Communication Styles, Problem Solving, and Relationships (this fifth module is available to students, but they are not required to complete it). At the time of writing, this initiative had only been completed over the course of one academic year; the second academic year was in progress. This paper will discuss how the initiative was implemented, changes that were made as it was developed, and instructor recommendations for further development. It is anticipated that additional undergraduate engineering courses will incorporate TAO pathways into their course requirements. Specific pathways include “Calming Your Worry” and “Let Go and Be Well”, which address topics like anxiety and resilience, respectively. As well, this paper will discuss additional wellness and mental health initiatives that are being implemented to support our first-year Engineering students such as mental health counselling, drop-in counselling, weekly therapy dog drop-in sessions, international student support services, and the creation of a new space within the Faculty of Engineering: the Engineering Student Support Services Centre in conjunction with the services currently offered at the WINONE office (First Year Engineering Office), making a home for incoming local and international students alike.
Stagner, J. A., & Sears, J., & St Louis, G., & Johrendt, J. L. (2020, July), Work In-Progress: Mental Health Initiatives and TAO at the University of Windsor Paper presented at 2020 First-Year Engineering Experience, East Lansing, Michigan. https://strategy.asee.org/35790
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