HMHC is a province-wide community of practice committed to learning and working together to promote mental wellness and healthier relationships with substances within BC post-secondary institutions.
Our initiatives engage students, service staff, faculty, and administrators to collaborate and innovate; to build capacity and sustained mechanisms to advance wellbeing.
HM|HC draws on sound theory and broad research, as well as local experience and insight to enhance campus cultures and shape environments that help all campus community members thrive.
In the past year, our engaged Leadership Committee and responsive Support Team each held four meetings, and our active Co-Leads met routinely.
Learning and growing together
The 2021 HM|HC Summit, We Belong to Each Other: Cultivating Campus Communities for Mutual Well-Being, was a highlight of the year. This week-long virtual event featured interactive sessions, thoughtful keynotes and panels, and reflective breakouts.
To avoid Zoom fatigue, we deconstructed the classic Summit into 28 sessions that built collective momentum to strengthen our campus communities.
Other Learning Opportunities and Highlights
2 HM|HC Talks
We organized two interactive, online meetings on specific health literacy topics, presented by people who are immersed in this work on their campuses.
3 HM|HC Info Sessions
These resource sessions for our community of practice introduce mental health and substance use-related topics, such as research findings, surveys, new services, and more.
Harm Reduction: a guide for campus communities
This 20-page PDF guide identifies initiatives that campus communities can take to minimize harm associated with substance use, and outlines how a health promotion approach can enrich those efforts.
E-Mental Health Guide
An accessible resource to support mental health and wellness for campus communities.
Promoting the Okanagan Charter
In the past year, we engaged with the Canadian Health Promoting Campuses Network and BCcampus to promote the Okanagan Charter among BC post-secondary campuses.
Students working with HM|HC
In 2020-21 we had:
- 1 active student participant in HM|HC’s Leadership Committee
- a Co-op student working with the support team for 4 months – preparing our e-mental health report and participating in Summit planning group
Infrastructure and communication
To promote more effective communications across our community of practice and beyond, we completed multiple modifications to the HM|HC website content, and revised the HM|HC member profile database, which is under construction.
To promote evaluative thinking within COP leadership and facilitate evaluation activities, we:
- Participated in evaluative exercises involving HM|HC Leadership Committee
- Built multiple evaluative mechanisms into the 2021 Summit (e.g., interactive padlet, evaluation workshop, and follow-up survey)
What we learned in 2020/21
A virtual evolution
The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a significant shift toward virtual working and learning environments. As a result, we held the 2021 Summit online via Zoom, in collaboration with BCcampus. Summit attendees helped us to learn:
- While virtual learning environments pose major challenges to relationship-building activities, they can promote a broader reach and open up participation to a wider range of community of practice members
- Better ways to engage participants virtually
- Using flexible virtual Summit scheduling
- Providing mechanisms for informal online engagement
- Strategies for engaging sessions to combat Zoom fatigue
Our place in the BC Partners
HM|HC is unique among BC Partners initiatives in terms of the level of involvement of partners (external to BCP) in the control of the project. In 20/21 some BCP partners raised concerns around HM|HC’s place as a BCP initiative, due to the differing nature of its stewardship and governance structures. Reflecting on those concerns has led to the following lessons:
- The health literacy focus within HM|HC is primarily about building capacity to use available knowledge to promote individual and collective health within campus communities, and secondarily about providing health literacy information.
- Levels of BCP partner involvement should be strategic and will vary depending on interest and capacity to work with the community of practice in promoting the above health literacy goals. Commitment to the primary goal might lead to involvement in the Support Team while commitment to the secondary goal might involve facilitating at a learning event (e.g., AC- and BCSS-facilitated Summit sessions) or helping to develop an informational resource. Both types of involvement are legitimate, but distinguishing levels of involvement improves efficiency for BCP.
- HM|HC community of practice members access and benefit from other BCP initiatives. For example, approximately 80% of those who attended our Beyond the Blues webinars were community of practice members.
- We need to engage the community of practice in ongoing measurement of health literacy impact related to BCP investment.
Community of practice members do not currently regard the website as a major asset of HM|HC. This has been hinted at by a few negative comments and was driven home by complete silence in the evaluation session at the Summit when a question was raised about the value of the website. Improving the website will need to be a priority in future plans and budgets.
- Future learning activities should seek to balance the benefits of in-person and virtual learning environments
- Ongoing engagement with members should be used to identify, implement, and evaluate promising practices related to participatory learning in virtual environments
- Member engagement in stewardship and governance should continue to be a priority
- The Support Team should work to identify clear opportunities for BC Partner engagement and communicate these regularly to the BCP leadership team and relevant project teams
- Resources should be committed to assessing and improving the value and functionality of the HM|HC website