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Adjusting to student life

BY LÉO CHARBONNEAU | AUG 05 2008

We all know that the transition to university or college can be difficult for young adults. It’s often their first substantial time away from home and can be filled with much stress and anxiety.

Stan Kutcher, a professor of medicine at Dalhousie University and holder of the Sun Life Financial Chair in Adolescent Mental Health, wants to help steer students through these trying times. He’s produced a booklet called Transitions: Student Reality Check that provides strategies students can use “to make healthy choices for themselves and their peers.” The booklet covers a wide range of topics, including effective study habits, stress management, peer pressure, financial responsibilities, mental illness and sexual health.

The idea was to distribute the booklet to all the local postsecondary education institutions that had a hand in its creation, but word soon spread beyond the Halifax area. The IWK Health Centre stepped in with additional funding, says Dr. Kutcher, and “so far as I understand, every first-year university student in Nova Scotia received it” as part of their orientation package last year.

A follow-up survey of the booklet’s launch found that an overwhelming 98 percent of students found it helpful and nearly one in five said they planned to visit counselling services after reading it.

More than 20 universities will be using the booklet this coming academic year. For a cost of $2,500 for five years, a university has the right to print as many of the booklets it wants. “We basically would just like to see it utilized as much as possible,” says Dr. Kutcher. Those interested can send an e-mail to tracy.mackenzie@iwk.nshealth.ca.

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