KELOWNA – Students at B.C. public and post-secondary institutions, including UBC Okanagan, will have access to additional supports to address substance use thanks to a $400,000 investment for a project co-led by the Centre for Addictions Research of BC and the Canadian Mental Health Association BC Division.

Changing the Culture of Substance Use is a project is currently being implemented at 11 public post-secondary institutions throughout British Columbia. Project researchers are working with these institutions to create a wider range of resources and strategies, which will engage key groups such as student leaders, students in residence and those in their first year.

UBC Okanagan will use its share of the funding to engage students and campus stakeholders to better understand the mental health and substance use needs on campus and promote a healthy campus environment.

“Excessive use of alcohol can negatively affect a student’s post-secondary experience and lead to future challenges with addiction,” says Steve Thomson, MLA for Kelowna-Mission. “Projects like this one at UBC Okanagan will help encourage moderation and other healthy choices that can last a lifetime.”

“The 2013 National College Health Assessment Canadian survey reported 39 per cent of students who drank alcohol in the last year said they later regretted something they did when drinking,” says Norm Letnick, MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country. “It’s vital that we help promote healthier relationships with alcohol among students.”

“A strong growing economy means we’re able to invest in the services people need– including supports for people facing mental health and substance use challenges,” says Premier Christy Clark, MLA for Westside-Kelowna. “This is a pivotal point in young people’s lives to understand the long-term damage and risks that come from substance abuse.”

This investment aligns with the provincial government’s 10-year mental-health and substance use plan, Healthy Minds, Healthy People, which focuses on prevention, early intervention, treatment and sustainability of mental health and substance use supports. The announcement meets a commitment within the plan to provide more substance use initiatives across the province.

The Province also offers Alcohol Sense, a comprehensive suite of online resources to help parents educate and guide their children to make healthy decisions about alcohol through critical thinking and conversation. To learn more, visit www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca/home/articles/topic/alcohol-sense.