Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Peer Resilience Program is offering three workshops this semester that students can attend at the Richmond campus. They are free to attend and cover a variety of topics ranging from healthy behaviours to happiness and connection.
These workshops, which began the past fall semester, were created to help students connect with their peers and be in touch with their mental health.
“We worked with a KPU psychology faculty member to develop the program, and its goals are to build resilience skills, decrease isolation, and increase social connections between KPU students,” says Megan Matthews, manager of student health promotion at KPU.
“We wanted to offer another type of program where students can chat with other KPU students. There is evidence to show the high potential for these peer-to-peer interventions by decreasing future mental health difficulties, reducing burnout, improving access to health services, and providing more support,” Matthews says.
The first workshop was held on May 23 and focused on how students can find outlets to make them feel happier and experience gratitude. Students were given tips on what they can do in their everyday lives to feel this way through mindfulness.
On June 6, the workshops will focus on how students can become healthier, both physically and mentally.
“Our next session focuses on healthy lifestyles, behaviours, and nature. We will cover topics on being active, trying to budget healthy foods, the importance of sleep, and planting a seed outside the Richmond campus,” she says.
Matthews also says the COVID-19 pandemic affected many students’ mental health due to the lack of social connections and social distancing.
“All those on-campus activities were halted and it is still taking a while for things to come back. The biggest takeaway we have been hearing from people who have attended, is that they are excited to get to know other students and have an opportunity to chat with people and make new friends,” she says.
Unlike workshops where lectures are held, these workshops offer discussions among peers and interactive activities.
It is also an opportunity for students who are struggling with their mental health to connect with others who might be experiencing similar thoughts and feelings.
“Even though we think we are all good right now in terms of our mental health, that is not always going to be the case. You can always learn some new skills to help later down the road,” Matthews says.
These workshops also mean a lot to Matthews, who knows how important students’ mental health can be, especially during stressful times in the semester.
“We wanted to give students new skills and hopefully set them up for success in the future. I am extremely passionate about advocating for student health and wellbeing. A big part of health promotion is enabling individuals to take charge of their own health,” she says.
“There are many factors that impact our health, but building and learning new skills is something we can do. I hope students participating in these workshops will gain the skills [they need] to be more resilient and successful, not just while they are in school, but once they leave as well.”
The final workshop will take place on June 13, and will focus on how students can build social connections on campus. Both workshops will take place from 12:00 to 1:30 pm.