University launches eight-week program to support students managing substance use & addiction

Queen’s works with St. Lawrence College and Kingston Public Health on new program 

This program is set to run permanently as a pillar of student support at Queen’s. 
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The University has partnered with a team of mental health providers from St. Lawrence College (SLC) and Addiction and Mental Health Services – Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox, and Addington (AMHS - KFLA) to develop an eight-week Substance Use Wellness program.

This collaboration followed a joint proposal by Queen’s and Student SLC to receive additional staff training for campus mental health providers and additional addiction support from AMHS-KFLA for students.

Kate Humphrys, health promotion coordinator at Student Wellness Services, specified each session will address a particular topic related to substance use and addictions.

Sessions within the psychoeducation program include non-judgemental information sharing, discussion among participants, and resources and worksheets, all of which are facilitated within a harm-reduction framework.

“Students will have the opportunity to engage about different aspects of substance use and how it affects their lives in different ways, and to receive support for issues they might be experiencing related to substance use, misuse, or abuse,” Humphrys wrote in a statement to The Journal.

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According to Humphrys, attendance is flexible, with an encouragement for students to attend sessions which will provide the most relevant resources.

“We want to support students to make their own choices about their use of substances” Humphrys wrote. “There are a wide-variety of options or outcomes that could be right for each individual.”

Facilitation of this partnership project was led by Mike Young, a former rector who is now the executive director of the Empathy Institute and an external consultant with AMHS-KFLA.

Funding for this work was obtained through a grant from the Centre for Innovation in Campus Mental Health (CICHM).

Humphrys said funding was obtained before the onset of the pandemic, as an additional way to provide support for students experiencing issues related to substance use, misuse, or abuse prior to COVID-19.

 “While this program was not developed in response to COVID-19, it is certainly a very relevant support at this time, as emerging research is indicating that Canadians have increased their alcohol consumption since the beginning of the pandemic,” Humphrys wrote.

Humphrys said substance use has had a direct impact on both physical and mental health, as well as academic achievement, and explained that offering a substance use wellness group has been a key aspect to supporting students during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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“Student support is critical given that large number of changes to living and learning conditions over the past year has increased stress for many students. We hope this group can also provide students with some positive coping strategies and skills to manage stress,” Humphrys wrote.

Humphrys also said this collaborative psycho-educational program is set to run permanently as a pillar of student support at Queen’s.

“Student Wellness Services has been committed to offering a variety of wellness groups to students for a number of years. We will continue to offer the groups that are most relevant to our student’s needs moving forward.”

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