News Release

REF NO.: 61

SUBJECT: Nine Atlantic Canadian universities participating in MoodCheck Challenge

DATE: March 10, 2016

Students at nine universities across Atlantic Canada are checking their moods this March.

From March 14-25, students at participating universities are encouraged to use the MoodCheck app to track their moods. Twice a day, at random times, their phone will prompt them to check in and enter their mood, the activity they are taking part in, where they are and who they are with.

“The goal of this challenge is to motivate students to be mindful about how the things they do affect the way they feel,” said Dr. Peter Cornish, director, Student Wellness and Counselling Centre, Memorial University of Newfoundland. “This increased awareness is known to be a strong predictor of improved mental health and well-being. This challenge is part of our commitment to providing students with the tools they need to help manage their personal well-being.”

Students will gain points each time they check in on the app, and gain bonus points the more often they check in. At the end of the challenge, the university with the most points will receive a $1,500 donation to be used toward a campus mental wellness initiative.

Universities participating in the MoodCheck Challenge include Acadia University, Dalhousie University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Mount Allison University, Mount Saint Vincent University, St. Thomas University, University of King’s College, University of New Brunswick and University of Prince Edward Island.

The MoodCheck Challenge was initiated by the student mental health working group of the Association of Atlantic Universities (AAU), which is co-chaired by Dr. Cornish.

Dr. Gary Kachanoski, president and vice-chancellor, Memorial University of Newfoundland, and Dr. Eddy Campbell, president and vice-chancellor, University of New Brunswick, have partnered to lead this challenge, and invited universities across Atlantic Canada to join them in this student mental health initiative.

“Student mental health is a major priority at Atlantic Canadian universities,” said Dr. Kachanoski. “Working with our partners in the AAU, we’re proud to collaborate on this initiative and to support the mental health and well-being of students across the region. Engaging students in this conversation is one way we can work against the stigma associated with mental health. Through the MoodCheck Challenge, we’re encouraging students to think about their mental health and to connect with each other.”

“The MoodCheck challenge is an engaging way for the university community to push the conversation about mental health and well-being into the open,” Dr. Campbell said. “At the University of New Brunswick, we are quite pleased at the support we’ve seen across the region with this initiative. And, of course, we are so proud that the technology at the heart of it sprung from UNB—it was developed Dr. Darren Piercey, one of our very own.”

The MoodCheck app is part of a larger program called WellTrack, which was developed by Dr. Piercey, a psychology professor at the University of New Brunswick. The program provides students with a number of online tools and resources aimed at helping them manage stress, anxiety, depression and some phobias. Many of the universities participating in the MoodCheck Challenge are already using the WellTrack program as part of their wellness supports for students. For those universities who were

not already using the program, WellTrack is offering free usage for the challenge.

More information about the MoodCheck Challenge can be found at www.mun.ca/moodcheckchallenge.       

The challenge results will be announced by Memorial University and the University of New Brunswick on Tuesday, March 29.

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