This September, the pilot project of a new mental health program will launch at Queen’s.
The Jack Project, spearheaded by Eric Windeler, promotes mental health education through the use of an informative website. The website will offer an interactive online support system for individuals struggling with mental health issues. Windeler’s son, Jack, ArtSci ’13, committed suicide at Queen’s in March 2010.
“We miss Jack every single day and hope our work can make a real difference for others,” Windeler told the Journal via email.
The project, which works in conjunction with Kids Help Phone and the Mental Health Commission of Canada, aims to strengthen the mental health of young adults nationwide as they make the transition from high school into university, college or independent living.
“Central to this initiative is to invest in online chat and mobile applications at Kids Help Phone,” said Windeler.
The Jack Project also includes awareness campaigns and a focus on practices that reduce the negative stigma surrounding mental health.
Queen’s is one of 12 colleges and universities that signed up for the pilot program, along with 22 high schools.
“We have limited the pilot to Ontario for practical travel and cost reasons,” Windeler said.
Windeler is optimistic about the state of mental health education at Queen’s.
“Queen’s is taking a leadership role in speaking out about mental health challenges on our campuses and this is vitally important,” he said. “We are hopeful other schools will follow Queen’s lead and train residence dons and other staff who are in regular contact with students.” The Jack Project is just one initiative funded by the Jack Windeler Memorial Fund at Kids Help Phone.
The national rollout of the project, targeting 300 high schools and 30 post-secondary institutions, will start next year.
“There will be immediate benefit in the lives of students today,” Windeler said. “The current generation of young people can make a huge difference … by not passing along the massive stigma associated with mental illness to their kids in the future.”
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