Pilot Project Fosters Mental Well-Being Among Ninth Graders

BScN student Chesca Obodoechina with Walkerville Collegiate Institute students

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

Sessional Instructor Nicole Nantais Faculty of Nursing alumna and current 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 Grade 9 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 many 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.

Group photo of BScN students

From left to right: BScN students Tony Cristofanilli, Chesca Obodoechina, Poonam Sharma, Danielle LeBlanc, Sophia Hong, Kary Duong, Haifa Nuru, Olivia Rizzo and UWindsor sessional instructor Nicole Nantais review the session's plan.

BScN students with high school students

Nursing students Chesca Obodoechina and Olivia Rizzo engage and discuss comments with Walkerville Collegiate Institute students during one of the afternoon's activities on coping strategies. 

“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.

Special thanks to Principal Josh Canty, Vice Principal Jana LePage-Kljajic and Physical Education Teachers Mr. Andrew Penner and Mr. Ryan Malott at Walkerville Collegiate Institute

For more information about this program, please contact Clinical Practice Learning Specialist Susan Dennison at the Faculty of Nursing.