Dec. 6, 2017

New program aims to ease transition to university life for UCalgary students with ADHD

Skills group takes proactive approach to learning time management, communicating with faculty, and self-advocacy
Alana Dietrich, Emma Climie and Laura Gordon combat mental health concerns for students with ADHD in new group-based program. Photo by Riley Brandt, University of Calgary
Alana Dietrich, Emma Climie and Laura Gordon combat mental health concerns for students with ADHD in

Drink plenty of water, eat your veggies, rest for eight hours, and get your flu shot every year. These are a few of the proactive measures we take to stay in good physical health. However, being proactive also applies to maintaining positive mental health, especially for groups that are at a greater risk of developing concerns. 

Psychology student Alana Dietrich and Emma Climie, assistant professor in the Werklund School of Education, recognized the potential to develop programming for students at greater risk of mental health concerns. Dietrich and Clime are pictured above with Laura Gordon. Led by Climie and funded by the Campus Mental Health Strategy grant program, ADHD Skills: Building Capacity in Students with ADHD aims to use a group-based intervention program to provide supports and ease the transition for students with ADHD as they enter the university environment. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is a common mental health concern characterized by inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. 

Climie identifies that being proactive and offering resources to at-risk students can help build skills for positive mental health before concerns arise. “It’s important to ensure that adequate resources are available to support individuals before they develop mental health concerns,” Climie explains. “Individuals with ADHD continue on to university at lower rates than those without ADHD — so providing supports for those who are here may help ensure they have the resources to achieve university success.” 

Over the six- to eight-week program, a small group of first- and second-year students who self-identify as having ADHD will engage in conversations focusing on specific topics such as time management, communicating with faculty, and self-advocacy. Through these weekly gatherings, students will work collaboratively to develop skills, learn strategies to achieve success and cultivate a supportive network. Climie hopes this type of program will become a regular offering on campus, ensuring students have access to the resources they need to maintain positive mental health.  

“With the huge transition that happens as individuals begin university studies, the risk for mental health issues is greater. That’s why programs supporting the Campus Mental Health Strategy are necessary,” says Climie. “It’s important that universities focus on supporting students — all students — to ensure that their mental health does not impact their ability to succeed.”  

This winter, Climie’s team is recruiting first- and second-year students who self-identify with ADHD to participate in the first ADHD Skills group. To learn more about the project, contact Emma Climie.   

Do you have a great idea to make our campus more caring? Applications for the next cycle of funding open spring 2018.  

ADHD Skills is one of the 2017 Campus Mental Health Strategy (CMHS) grant winners. The Campus Mental Health Strategy Grants were created to get our community thinking about how they can foster positive mental health and wellness, and help build a supportive environment, through their own big ideas. Visit the CMHS website for more information on grants.