Chesca Obodoechina speaks with Walkerville Collegiate Institute studentsNursing student Chesca Obodoechina helps Walkerville Collegiate Institute students identify coping strategies during a session on mental wellness.

Nursing pilot project fosters mental well-being among ninth graders

Nursing alumna and sessional instructor Nicole Nantais (BScN 2016), along with her second-year BScN students, have embarked on a new pilot project surrounding clinical education.

The nursing students are engaged in a mental wellness initiative by delivering teaching plans aimed at promoting mental health awareness to the Grade 9 physical education classes at Walkerville Collegiate Institute. In alignment with Ontario’s Health and Physical Education curriculum, the goal of the program is to utilize an upstream approach to foster mental well-being and prevent mental health disorders among the adolescent population.

Lesson plans include such topics as stress reduction, coping strategies, self-care, and how to access mental health supports in the community.

“This new school health clinical placement is allowing nursing students to gain hands-on experience in the community setting while applying the theory they are learning in their mental health course to practice,” says Nantais.

The BScN students are gaining valuable experience by developing essential nursing skills including collaboration, teaching and learning, and communication; they understand the nuances of community nursing and learn about the crucial role school health nurses play.

“We never had programs like this at my high school,” says second-year nursing major Tony Cristofanilli. “But mental health knows no boundaries and I feel that if more schools had this, it could help address issues at the source and curb incidences of mental health problems down the road where nurses would then be treating the patient’s symptoms.”

Nantais hopes to expand the clinical rotation to more nursing students and reach more high schools in the Windsor-Essex region in the future.

For more information about this program, contact clinical practice learning specialist Susan Dennison at the Faculty of Nursing.

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