September 6, 2018 2:42 pm
Updated: September 7, 2018 2:10 pm

Moncton college hands out mental health first aid kits to students

WATCH: The beginning of the school year can be overwhelming for students who struggle with anxiety and mental illness. Oulton College in New Brunswick is handing out mental health first aid kits to help out. Shelley Steeves reports.


Back to school can be an overwhelming time for students who struggle with anxiety.

That’s why Oulton College in Moncton has decided to hand out mental health first aid kits to new students.

Some of the kits came in the form of pencil cases covered in colourful poop emojis, certainly not your typical first aid kits.

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But the kits could be lifesaving for students in crisis, according to Kerri Flemming, a representative of the college.

“College is really stressful for any age group coming back to school but we have parents coming back to school and students coming in right from high school to college and that can be overwhelming,” said Flemming.

Flemming said after hearing about similar kits being handed out at the University of Waterloo, she decided to follow their lead and handed out the kits to students who started classes at the college this week.

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The kits contain stress-relieving trinkets like calming aromatherapy sticks and stress balls, which students can use to ease their anxieties. The kits also contain pamphlets indicating where students who are feeling overwhelmed can go for help.

Shannon Scull is a new student and a 36-year-old mother of two.

“My daughter started kindergarten today and I started college,” she said.

“I grew up in the generation before e-mail and before texting, so in that regard, I am a little intimidated.”

Scull is studying to be an educational assistant and will eventually work with students who may need mental support themselves.

“When I was a kid, we did not talk about things like this. It was never a conversation but now it is one of the first things you talk about,” she said.

Flemming says staff at the college are taught to watch for warnings signs that may indicate that a student is struggling.

READ MORE: How mental health should be taught in Canadian schools

“Absences are a big one, so not coming to class, changes in behaviour. So maybe one day they are very outgoing and the next day they are really quiet and withdrawn. Those are big signals that something is going on,” said Flemming.

The colourful kits are also meant to open up dialogue about mental health.

“We want to make sure there is no stigma in any of our classrooms,” said Flemming.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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