New transition program in works

A new program for Grade 12 students who experience mental health issues is in the works, aiming to equip them with the necessary knowledge to transition easily into post-secondary education.

The Regional Assessment and Resource Centre (RARC) at Queen’s University has partnered with Northern Ontario Assessment and Resource Centre (NOARC) at Cambrian College to develop the program, funded by the provincial government’s Mental Health Innovation Fund (MHIF). The Successful Transition Online and Mentoring Program (STOMP) will be modeled on RARC’s On-Line to Success (OLTS), a web-based course offered to Grade 11 and 12 students in the Kingston and surrounding area with learning disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorders and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

OLTS is offered for free, but updated psycho-educational assessments, which are necessary in order to receive accommodations at most post-secondary institutions, aren’t covered by the current program.

The new program will be developed over the next several months, with RARC and NOARC working closely with local school boards and mental health organizations, the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) and Kate Harkness, a Queen’s psychology professor.

The program will offer 30 Grade 12 students the opportunity to attend a two-day session at Queen’s, where they’ll meet other students and listen to panel discussions by current university students with mental health issues. Students will also have the chance to meet with a psychologist to review their learning profile.

After the session at Queen’s, students will complete an online course and receive a comprehensive mental health assessment to help their transition into everyday life at university or college. Mentoring will be offered continually throughout their first year.

STOMP will be available for free beginning in March 2016.

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