Photo by: Charlie Martin
CopeCareConnect is an initiative that helps Brock students build resilience by providing healthy coping skills, caring communities, and strong social connections. Founded in 2015 by Brock undergrad students, It also provides resources to mental health and counselling resources on and off campus.
The initiative is a part of two health sciences courses at Brock: HLSC 3Q20: “Constructing Health Campaigns,” which is the prerequisite, and HLSC 3Q21: “Health Campaigns in Action,” where the initiative is put into action.
It works mainly by encouraging students to make pledges, which are ten well-being goals students are encouraged to take for a two-week period. Examples of some pledges listed include: “each day, I will write something positive about myself,” “twice a week, I will introduce myself to someone and ask them about their field of study,” and “I will not post altered photos on my social media.”
“The whole idea is that we want to help students cope with their stresses, show other students they care, as well as connecting with other students,” said Meghan Robinson, who is currently a teaching assistant for HLSC 3Q21.
Robinson, who took the course as an undergraduate student herself, ensures students that the pledges are just resources there to help them and not any sort of promise that must be upheld for the two weeks.
“We invite students to make a pledge and carry out that pledge for two weeks—there is no punishment, consequences, or anything like that if you don’t complete your pledge, we’re just trying to help students engage in behaviour change,” said Robinson.
HLSC 3Q21 is the specific course that groups students into different campaigns to promote awareness about the CopeCareConnect initiative. Different groups of students campaign in different ways. Jaime Saul, a fourth-year public health student currently enrolled in the course and a CopeCareConnect committee member, says one of the things that has brought awareness to the initiative is their use of a campaign-based model.
“Campaign-wise, our specific campaign has been smooth sailing–-the majority of the people we have reached are people that did not know about the resources prior, they know about the resource and they say ‘Oh I’m going to tell my friends, this is an amazing resource’” said Saul.
The use of community partners, who students partner with, also helps spread the word further. Community partners often include but are not limited to: residence dons, nurses and professors. They assist the initiative by informing their roommates, clients or students about the initiative.
“Professors, for example, will help us by posting something on their Sakai page or distributing something in class, or by allowing students to make a class announcement, that’s another way we move through the social network of the school,” said Robinson.
HLSC 3Q21 and the initiative itself not only help students that don’t know about it, but it also has a positive effect on its committee members.
“This is an ever-evolving campaign, I’ve personally noticed that the push to get myself outside more, to do other things besides sit by myself and do school, the idea of getting people to enjoy their surroundings a little bit more, and have a bit more balance in their lives and do what makes them feel good, is extremely important and a lot of people appreciate the resources,” said Saul.
Even as a teaching assistant for the course, the initiative provides positive individual benefits.
“It really does help me feel like I’m giving back to the community, I’ve gotten so much out of Brock, I love this school and its community, and this is a way that I can give back,” said Robinson. “It’s no secret that students are stressed—students are really stressed, and this is a way that I feel I can help.”
Although CopeCareConnect is made for students by students, the pledges are not limited to students, the initiative encourages staff members and anybody who is interested, to make a pledge. Part of the resources that HLSC 3Q21 students create are short videos, which get shared on their YouTube channel, to highlight the benefits of engaging in different chosen behaviours.
“The videos provide positive behaviour alternatives for students and faculty to know where to start—you can not change a behaviour if you don’t know what to change it to, awareness is key,” said Saul.
The initiative is one of a kind if the fact that it serves multiple things; serving the student community and making a difference, serving as a wellness check, and also an educational experiential opportunity. CopeCareConnect is an ongoing initiative with each semester’s course and its students, therefore, it’ll always be there for the Brock community.
A video detailing the initiative’s purpose and useful data on its users by Robinson can be watched here.
To make your own pledge to help yourself cope, show others you care, or to help make connections on campus, visit CopeCareConnect.ca