On October 11, the COVID-19 Student Support Network (SSN) announced its inception via the creation of Instagram and Facebook accounts. After posting some sneak-peeks, the network officially launched on October 21.
What is the SSN?
According to Stacie Smith, one of the founders and a recent university graduate, “The COVID-19 Student Support Network is a mental health network for post-secondary students who are working through the transition to online learning that began back in March. It is a place to connect with others going through similar circumstances, along with resources and opportunities to get them through this difficult time.”
How did this project start?
The project was launched as part of the MindYourMind YouthExperts Design Lab program, a non-profit that assists Canadians aged 14-29 in developing mental health resources. According to their website, the youth work directly with the organization to develop their project and ensure that they are active participants in every step of the project.
The SSN team is made up entirely of volunteers of high school and university students from across the country.
We interviewed UNB Saint John student Ashley MacLean, who was a contributor to this program, to find out more.
UNB Saint John student Ashley MacLean part of the project team
MacLean has been working on this project since May of this year. She explained what this network will provide to students:
“Students will have access to discussion forums, resources that are made up of local and national mental health supports, volunteer opportunities that vary from campus to campus, and more…They can find (the) mental health resources and talk/text lines under the Resources tab of our website.”
Future expansion of the network
“This (resource) section will also eventually have mental health resources (specific to) each university, but we’re still working on this part of our website as it takes time to research what mental health supports exist on each campus in Canada. We hope to make quick progress on this so students don’t have to go through the process of searching for campus support when they’re in crisis.”
MacLean is currently in the process of adding all available mental health resources for both the UNB Fredericton and Saint John campuses.
“We recommend that student advocates and student councils contact us with any and all mental health supports that exist on their campus. This will speed the process of updating our section (on) campus-based mental health support.”
What other features does this network include?
“The biggest part of our online support is our app. It’s called “Mobilize” and it can also be found under the Mobilize tab on our website. It’s a space for student mental health discussions, check-ins, and online engagement. The app breaks down the different involvements by groups so students can easily pick and choose what they would like to participate in.”
Why did this project come to be?
“The purpose of both the website and app is to supply students in Canada with much-needed mental health supports during the unprecedented times of COVID-19. Our team is made up of students across Canada, so we understand the deficits that the pandemic and online school continue to have on student mental health. Our hope is that the app and additional website resources will help students when they need it…”
“We want to address the importance of making any and all mental health supports accessible because students shouldn’t be sent on scavenger hunts in order to be connected to the right services.”
“Mental health is one of those things where time is of the essence, (and) some students don’t have the time nor energy to search for help when they desperately need it. We hope that our app and evolving website will help take away some anxiety when it comes to finding mental health support.”
How can students access this network?
Students can access this network by either downloading the app called “Mobilize” onto their electronic devices or by visiting their website. Students can also sign up for email notifications about the app if they choose. The network can also be followed on Facebook (Covid-19 Student Support Network), and Instagram (@covid19ssn).