This case study highlights the Successful Transitions Online and Mentoring Program (STOMP)
Sally is a grade 12 student with a mental health diagnosis and a plan to attend a post-secondary institution in the following academic year.
Sally is concerned about transitioning to University while having a mental health disorder. She has managed to adapt and be successful in high school with her support system, however, moving to a new city and a different academic environment means that those supports may not be there in the present form.
Sally was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) when she was in the ninth grade. Under the care of her family physician and a mental health counsellor in her home community she has been able to adapt to enjoy the normal activities of an adolescent. She disclosed her condition to her high school guidance counsellor who provides her with strategies to help her academically as well helping her deal with unexpected absences from the classroom. With these supports Sally has enjoyed an academically successful high school career and has been accepted into a University program in a city 350km from her home community.
Sally is concerned about moving to a new city away from her family, friends and mental health supports. By discussing these concerns with her high school guidance counsellor she learns about the Successful Transitions Online and Mentoring Program (STOMP). STOMP is an online transition program designed to assist Grade 12 students with identified mental health challenges with general transition information but also addresses the specific transition challenges that they may experience.
She joins the program in the winter (March) of her final year of high school. She meets other students like her, meets her moderator and engages in some in-person learning before the online course begins. She completes the online modules at home after school which involves learning about mental health disorders, coping strategies, supports and her rights as a student with a mental health disorder. This material is covered through brief readings, videos and activities moderated by teacher candidates who have been trained in mental health as well as the online course management system. These moderators are available to provide real-time support, answer questions and provide feedback on assigned work. A discussion board is available on the course management system where Sally is free to interact with other graduating students with mental health disorders.
Through the online modules Sally learned about the importance of a strong support system and begins to build her support system during the summer. She contacts disability services at the University and finds out what documentation she requires to register for academic supports. She also discusses her upcoming transition with her family physician and mental health counsellors who provide referrals for comparable services in her new city.
Upon completion of the online course modules in the summer of Sally’s graduating year she is assigned a mentor who has already completed at least one year of post-secondary studies at the University she plans on attending in the fall. Contact information between Sally and her mentor are exchanged and the mentor is available to answer Sally’s questions in advance of the new school year. Upon arriving at University Sally’s mentor will arrange a face-to-face meeting and help show Sally around the University and new city, focusing on their mental health services. Her mentor will also be available to discuss issues and questions as they arise during their shared time at the University.
Sally is introduced to STOMP by her high school guidance counsellor.
STOMP will assist Sally in establishing her transition plan through the online modules, moderators and her mentor. This transition plan will help her navigate the mental health services provided at her University.
Mentors are recruited through on-campus disability services, mental health agencies in the local communities and the National Education Association of Disabled Students (NEADS). The moderators who are teacher candidates are being recruited through Faculties of Education at Laurentian University and Queens University.
As the online curriculum and mentorship model are presently under development specific details are not yet available. However, further questions about STOMP can be directed to the Project Lead, Dr. Alana Holmes (firstname.lastname@example.org, 705 566-8101, ext. 7621).