About the Project

Male freshmen are particularly vulnerable to substance misuse linked to mental ill health during their first year at university. Research shows they experience more stressors during their transition from family life to independence, and are more likely to use substances to relieve stress, anxiety, or depression. This may place them at higher risk for mental health problems, mental illnesses, suicide, and substance abuse disorders.

The Caring Campus Project was developed at Queen’s University and expanded to Dalhousie University and the University of Calgary to address these topics of mental health and substance misuse, particularly in freshmen males, in an effort to make campuses a more supportive, caring, and inclusive environment for everybody.

Breakdown of The Project

The Caring Campus project is essentially made up of two parts – there’s a research component, and a student action and leadership component. The research component includes surveys of the male freshmen populations of the three campuses involved (Queen’s, Dalhousie, and Calgary), in an effort to understand both students’ substance use habits and mental health, as well as their perceptions of the substance use and mental health attitudes and behaviours on their campus, and to see if these behaviours and perceptions change at all over time.

The student action component has seen the development of groups of student leaders on the project campuses. The goal of these groups has been to help other students learn about mental wellness and safe substance use patterns and to correct misperceptions about substance use norms. The student groups have been given the freedom to try new things to reach their audience, and to expand and develop their brand and messaging as they see fit, based on the unique realities of their campus.

If you would like more information about the project, please contact Josh Decaire at joshua.decaire@queensu.ca.



Queen’s Project Staff

The core project team at Queen’s consists of the PIs – Drs. Chen, Stuart and Krupa. The research staff include Josh Decaire, George Konstantinidis, Michelle Koller, and Salinda Horgan.



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Calgary Project Staff

The project team at the University of Calgary consists of Co-PI Dr. Keith Dobson, Research Assistant Laura Henderson, and PhD. Student Liza Mastikhina.


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Dalhousie Project Staff

The Dalhousie University research team is made up of Co-PIs Drs. Michael Teehan and Sherry Stewart, Dr. Kara Thompson, Research Assistants Jennifer Swansburg and Parnell Davis-MacNevin, and Graduate Student Annie Chinneck.