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Graduate and Life Sciences Education

Graduate Student Wellness Grant


Proposal
May 1st, 2020

Rehabilitation Sciences Institute, Department of Occupational Science &


Occupational Therapy, Department of Physical Therapy, and Department
of Speech-Language Pathology
University of Toronto
500 University Avenue
Toronto, ON, M5G 1V7
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Graduate Student Wellness Grant Proposal


The Proposed Initiative
The proposed initiative is titled “The Art of Keeping Well: A Creative-Arts Hub for Graduate Students in
Rehabilitation”. The overall purpose of this initiative is to develop an arts-based mental health promotion program for
University of Toronto (U of T) graduate students in the Rehabilitation Sciences Sector [e.g., in the Rehabilitation
Sciences Institute (RSI) and in the Departments of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy (OT), Physical
Therapy (PT), and Speech-Language Pathology (S-LP)]. The proposed arts-based program will be aimed at creating a
supportive environment for self-expression, empowering students through arts-based, self-care strategies, and fostering
meaningful connections through peer support. These goals will be addressed by hosting weekly group-based creative
workshops led by a combination of professional artists, arts-based mental health professionals, and students. The
workshops will span a range of creative modalities, including visual arts, dance, music, and creative writing. To create a
supportive culture that fosters community-building as well as psychological health and safety, the workshops will be:
open to all students across the four departments of rehabilitation; designed for any level of experience in creative arts;
and be held in physical and/or virtual spaces that are accessible and inclusive. Specifically, we will employ four strategies
to enhance inclusivity: (1) educating peer support leaders on the importance of inclusivity; (2) setting clear workshop
ground rules that promote respect and celebrate diversity; (3) using inclusive language (e.g., personal gender pronouns);
and (4) seeking feedback from committee members and workshop participants for continual improvement. The overall
initiative has two main objectives: (1) determine the feasibility and acceptability of an arts-based student mental health
promotion program; and (2) explore preliminary program effectiveness on mental health outcomes, including resiliency,
social connectedness, and psychological well-being.
The Issues It Will Address
Student mental health and well-being on campus is an issue garnering increasing levels of attention across
Canadian universities. In 2019, U of T established a Presidential and Provostial Task Force on Student Mental Health
and through their efforts, identified common barriers that students confront when attempting to access mental health
services on campus. These issues include timely and appropriate access to care, as well as service coordination and
navigation (Presidential and Provostial Task Force on Student Mental Health, 2019). One overarching theme that is
identified in their recently published report, is the need for a more preventative approach to mental health care on campus
(2019), including mental health promotion initiatives.
To determine the specific mental health needs and preferences of students in the Rehabilitation Sciences Sector,
the Rehabilitation Science Graduate Students' Union Mental Health Committee conducted a survey in the fall of 2019 of
RSI students. The survey revealed preferences for mental health initiatives, with the most commonly reported being: (1)
informal meetings with peers and faculty to discuss topics related to mental health; (2) workshops to learn how to manage
stressors; (3) exercise-based social events; and (4) arts-based social events. Mental health champions, including students
and faculty, across the four departments of rehabilitation agree that only the former three initiatives can be adequately
addressed with currently existing U of T services. No initiatives currently exist that address the expressed desire for arts-
based social events. The proposed initiative will address two main issues facing the Rehabilitation Sciences Sector: (1)
the lack of mental health promotion initiatives; and (2) the lack of arts-based social events.
How this Initiative will Enhance Student Well-Being
The mental health benefits of creative activities and therapies include enhanced feelings of mastery, self-esteem,
self-awareness, flexibility, focus and motivation, and when performed within a group, include promotion of social
connectedness (Boldt & Paul, 2010; Dam, Fryszberg, & Kirsh, 2008). The proposed arts-based program aims to emulate
the successes of a creative arts program documented by Dam, Fryszberg, and Kirsh (2008), which found that a community
art studio for adults with serious mental illness led to positive self-affirmations, increased social capital through an arts-
based community, capacity development, new avenues for participation, and improved physical and mental health. By
participating in this program, students will have the opportunity to learn arts-based self-care strategies across the
modalities of visual arts, dance, music, and creative writing, and develop meaningful connections through peer support.
Peer support in post-secondary settings—specifically, trained student-peers who provide emotional support for
peers—can contribute to the creation of a comfortable environment for students seeking support and empathy from those
with similar lived experiences (Mead & Macneil, 2006). Peer support has also been shown to increase psychosocial
performance, self-esteem, and confidence of peer leaders who are providing the support, which suggests that these roles
can be empowering and can contribute to the recruitment and succession of future peer leaders (Brar et al., 2012;
Schwartz & Sendor, 1999; Shook & Keup, 2012).
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Milestones and Timelines:


NOTE: Key milestones are written in plain text and deliverables are bolded.
Deliverables & Milestones Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May
Year 1: Planning, Professional-led Workshop Implementation and Program Evaluation
Establish Project Planning Committee and Terms of Reference
Establish Fine Arts Council (e.g., students with experience and/or interest in fine arts)
Conduct population needs analysis and develop program logic model
Submit research ethics board application
Finalize consultation and workshop facilitation contracts
Create marketing and outreach plan
Develop creative arts workshops in collaboration with professional consultants and facilitators
Train students as peer support leaders
Pilot 15 professional-led workshops
Introduce peer support leaders into workshops as co-facilitators
Conduct program evaluation: recruitment, data collection* and analysis
Deliverable 1: The Art of Keeping Well Student Showcase †
Deliverable 2: Complete workshop manual (version 1)
Deliverable 3: Complete 1-2 page annual progress report (including deliverables accomplished, challenges faced, future
recommendations, and budget)
Year 2: Student-led Workshop Implementation and Program Evaluation
Review (and revise if necessary) workshop manual (version 1)
Train Fine Arts Council members in workshop delivery and planning for annual Student Showcase
Pilot student-led workshops
Conduct program evaluation: recruitment, data collection* and analysis
Deliverable 1: The Art of Keeping Well Student Showcase †
Deliverable 2: Complete workshop manual (version 2)
Deliverable 3: Complete 1-2 page annual progress report (including deliverables accomplished, challenges faced, future
recommendations, budget, and research findings)
Year 3: Dissemination of Research Findings and Program Expansion
Research further funding opportunities
Apply for additional grants to secure funding for upcoming years
Build relationships within the community and disseminate research findings
Meet with Fine Arts Council members to train in workshop planning and delivery for subsequent years
Deliverable 1: Complete manuscript for submission to a peer-reviewed journal
Deliverable 2: Complete workshop manual (version 3)
Deliverable 3: Complete 1-2 page final report (including deliverables accomplished, challenges faced, future recommendations, and
budget)
† Students' work will be showcased, potentially in the areas of movement and musical performances, visual artwork, written pieces at the U of T Med Student Showcase
* Data will be collected to assess program feasibility, acceptability and preliminary effectiveness (see Measures to Accomplish Milestones section of grant application for specific outcome measures)
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Measures to Accomplish Milestones


A population needs analysis will be conducted from September to November 2020 (Year 1) to examine graduate
students’ needs and preferences for an arts-based mental health promotion program. A program logic model will be
developed to guide an integrative, multi-method evaluation of all program components, delivery, and impact. The
information collected throughout this process will also detail five essential program components (reach, effectiveness,
adoption, implementation, maintenance) in accordance with the RE-AIM framework (Glasgow, Vogt, & Boles, 1999).
The feasibility and acceptability of the proposed project (Objective 1) will be evaluated through qualitative data
collection, including facilitator field notes and key stakeholder interviews (see Appendix A for Sample Data Collection
Tools for Program Evaluation). Thematic analysis will be used to identify themes related to program feasibility and
acceptability from the perspectives of graduate students, workshop facilitators, Fine Arts Council, and Program Planning
Committee. A cost-effectiveness analysis and program satisfaction survey will also be utilized to quantitatively examine
feasibility and acceptability. Data collection will include demographic information (e.g., age, gender, year of study, and
graduate degree), attendance rates, program costs, required resources, and student satisfaction with program components
(e.g., workshop activities, resources, time and duration, accessibility, and inclusivity). Data will be analyzed using
descriptive statistics.
Preliminary effectiveness of the proposed project (Objective 2) will be evaluated using a mixed-methods
approach. Insight into program effects on students’ mental health and well-being will be gained through focus groups
and interviews. Using thematic analysis, themes will be identified to highlight student experiences, impact on mental
health and social connectedness, and potential program benefits and/or shortfalls. Participants will also be asked to
complete an online questionnaire before and after the program to assess self-reported measures of resilience (Brief
Resilience Scale: Smith et al., 2008), social connection (Inclusion of Community in Self tool: Mashek et al., 2007), and
psychological well-being (Ryff’s Scales of Psychological Well-being: Kafka & Kozma, 2002). Data will be analyzed
using descriptive statistics and repeated measures analyses of variances to examine change in student mental health
outcomes.
Approval from the U of T’s Research Ethics Board will be obtained prior to commencement of this initiative. A
program evaluation will occur throughout two phases of research in Year 1 (January to May 2021) and Year 2 (September
2021 to May 2022) and will be summarized in annual reports. Findings will be summarized as a plain language report to
enhance awareness on campus, shared at relevant conferences, such as the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Mental
Health for All Conference and submitted for publication to the Canadian Journal of Higher Education.
Project Sustainability
We propose seven strategies to promote the sustainability of this initiative, with a focus on increasing incentives
and modes of accountability: (1) create a Project Planning Committee who will develop the Terms of Reference, which
will outline the values, missions, duties, and roles, and who will oversee the design, development, implementation,
evaluation, and sustainability of the initiative; (2) establish the Fine Arts Council as eligible for Co-Curricular Record
(CCR) approval and also undertake an annual student showcase to provide students with an incentive for participating in
the council; (3) create a workshop facilitation manual that will be updated yearly and be provided to the subsequent
year’s Fine Arts Council; (4) create a list of key contacts and vendors, involved in previous years, that will be collated
and provided to the subsequent year’s Fine Arts Council to ensure fluid succession; (5) apply for grants (e.g., Student
Space Enhancement Fund) and other funding opportunities in Year 3 so we can continue to enhance the program; (6)
ascertain the support of the Chairs of the Rehabilitation Sciences Sector on a yearly basis; and finally, (7) seek
partnerships across the university and broader community to enhance outreach, program maintenance, and collaboration
in the design and delivery of creative workshops (e.g., U of T departmental Health and Wellness Committees, U of T
Health and Wellness Services, Faculty of Medicine’s Office of Health Professions Student Affairs, U of T Department
of Fine Arts, Creative Works Studio).
Members Involved in the Submission of this Proposal
Alexandra Thompson (RSI), Alyssa Waldner (S-LP), Amy Nesbitt (OT), Annmarie Villanueva (OT), Bonnie Kirsh (OT
Faculty), Emily Nalder (OT Faculty), Jaimie Coleman (PT Faculty), Jill Stier (OT Faculty), Karishma Patel (OT),
Marcus Yu (OT), and Meera Premnazeer (OT); In consultation with Isabel Fryszberg (Arts-based OT Reg.); See
Appendix B for a full list.
Proposed Budget
Refer to Appendix C for Proposed Budget.
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References

Boldt, R. W., & Paul, S. (2010). Building a creative-arts therapy group at a university counseling center. Journal of
College Student Psychotherapy, 25(1), 39-52. https://doi.org/10.1080/87568225.2011.532472
Brar, I., Ryu, J., Shaikh, K., Altman, A., & Ng, J. (2012). Motivation for McMaster. University campus peer support
centres: Benefits for student emotional and mental well-being.
Dam, A., Fryszberg, I., & Kirsh, B. (2008). Understanding the experience and impact of a community art studio
initiative for adults with serious mental illness through narrative explorations. The International Journal of the
Arts in Society, 3(2), 53-63. https://doi.org/10.18848/1833-1866/CGP/v03i02/35462
Glasgow, R. E., Vogt, T. M., & Boles, S. M. (1999). Evaluating the public health impact of health promotion
interventions: The RE-AIM framework. American Journal of Public Health, 89(9), 1322-1327.
https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.89.9.1322
Kafka, G. J., & Kozma, A. (2002). The construct validity of Ryff's scales of psychological well-being (SPWB) and
their relationship to measures of subjective well-being. Social Indicators Research, 57(2), 171-190.
https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1014451725204
Mashek, D., Cannaday, L. W., & Tangney, J. P. (2007). Inclusion of community in self scale: A single‐item pictorial
measure of community connectedness. Journal of Community Psychology, 35(2), 257-275.
https://doi.org/10.1002/jcop.20146
Mead, S., & MacNeil, C. (2006) Peer support: What makes it unique? International Journal of Psychosocial
Rehabilitation, 10(2), 2937.
Presidential and Provostial Task Force on Student Mental Health. (2019). Final Report and Recommendations.
Retrieved from https://www.provost.utoronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/sites/155/2020/01/Presidential-and-
Provostial-Task-Force-Final-Report-and-Recommendations-Dec-2019.pdf
Schwartz, C. E., & Sendor, R. M. (1999). Helping others helps oneself: Response shift effects in peer support. Social
Science & Medicine, 48(11), 1563-1575. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0277-9536(99)00049-0
Shook, J. L., & Keup, J. R. (2012). The benefits of peer leader programs: An overview from the literature. New
Directions for Higher Education, 2012(157), 5–16. https://doi.org/10.1002/he.20002
Smith, B. W., Dalen, J., Wiggins, K., Tooley, E., Christopher, P., & Bernard, J. (2008). The brief resilience scale:
assessing the ability to bounce back. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 15, 194-200.
https://doi.org/10.1080/10705500802222972
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Appendix A: Sample Data Collection Tools for Program Evaluation

Constructs Assessed Description

Demographics • Age, gender, ethnicity, education, marital status, employment status, and
history of mental illness.

Resiliency • 6 items
Brief Resilience Scale (Smith et • 5-point Likert type scale, from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (5)
al., 2008) • Higher scores indicate higher trait resilience (e.g., ability to bounce back
or recover from stress).

Social connection • 1 item


Inclusion of Community in Self • Numerical values from one to six are assigned to each image for scoring:
tool (Mashek, Cannaday, & one being the least perceived social connectedness depicted by the most
Tangney, 2007) distanced circles, and six being the most social connectedness depicted
by fully overlapped circles.
• Higher scores indicate higher perceived social connection.

Psychological well-being • 42 items


Ryff’s Scales of Psychological • Measures six aspects of wellbeing and happiness: autonomy,
Well-being (Kafka & Kozma, environmental mastery, personal growth, positive relations with others,
2002) purpose in life, and self-acceptance.
• 7-point Likert type scale, from strongly agree (1) to strongly disagree (7)
• Higher scores suggest higher psychological well-being.

Program satisfaction survey • Graduate students’ level of satisfaction with key program components
(e.g., workshop activities, resources, time and duration, accessibility,
inclusivity, opportunities for creative expression, level of peer support,
degree of commitment, and likes / dislikes).

Program feasibility and • Feasibility:


acceptability o Questions will focus on: perceived barriers and facilitators to
Semi-structured interviews with workshop design and delivery, recruitment, safety, value and
all stakeholders (graduate resource-intensity of workshops, suggestions for improvement,
students, workshop facilitators, level of knowledge required in creative arts, and post-secondary
Fine Arts Council, and Program student mental health.
Planning Committee) • Acceptability:
o Questions will focus on: student motives for participating,
barriers and benefits, aspects of the program that participants
liked, aspects they would change, and sustained engagement in
creative activities following workshop completion.
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Appendix B: Full List of Collaborating Faculty and Students

Name Department Status Email


Emily Nalder OT Faculty emily.nalder@utoronto.ca
Bonnie Kirsh OT Faculty bonnie.kirsh@utoronto.ca
Jill Stier OT Faculty jill.stier@utoronto.ca
Anoli Shah OT Student, Year 1 anoli.shah@mail.utoronto.ca
Bismah Khalid OT Student, Year 1 bismah.khalid@mail.utoronto.ca
Ellen Law OT Student, Year 1 e.law@mail.utoronto.ca
Gobika Sithamparanathan OT Student, Year 1 gobika.sithamparanathan@mail.utoronto.ca
Husna Fareed OT Student, Year 1 husna.fareed@mail.utoronto.ca
Layana Kirubainathan OT Student, Year 1 layana.kirubainathan@mail.utoronto.ca
Marcus Yu OT Student, Year 1 marcusj.yu@mail.utoronto.ca
Meera Premnazeer OT Student, Year 1 meera.premnazeer@mail.utoronto.ca
Robin Kim OT Student, Year 1 robinhy.kim@mail.utoronto.ca
Zehra Haque OT Student, Year 1 zehra.haque@mail.utoronto.ca
Bianca Serapiglia OT Student, Year 1 (UTM) bianca.serapiglia@mail.utoronto.ca
Jordan Berard OT Student, Year 1 (UTM) jordan.berard@mail.utoronto.ca
Amy Nesbitt OT Student, Year 2 amy.nesbitt@mail.utoronto.ca
Annmarie Villanueva OT Student, Year 2 annmarie.villanueva@mail.utoronto.ca
Grace Crolla OT Student, Year 2 grace.crolla@mail.utoronto.ca
Karishma Patel OT Student, Year 2 kari.patel@mail.utoronto.ca
Priyanka Thakkar OT Student, Year 2 p.thakkar@mail.utoronto.ca
Monique Gill OT Student, Year 2 moniquekaur.gill@mail.utoronto.ca
Abigal Nkrumah OT Student, Year 2 (UTM) abigail.nkrumah@mail.utoronto.ca
Kimberly Germann OT Student, Year 2 (UTM) kimberly.germann@mail.utoronto.ca
Jaimie Coleman PT Faculty jaimie.coleman@utoronto.ca
Kara Patterson PT Faculty kara.patterson@utoronto.ca
Helen Berger PT Student, Year 2 helen.burger@mail.utoronto.ca
Jyoti Mann PT Student, Year 2 jyoti.mann@mail.utoronto.ca
Laurin Black PT Student, Year 2 laurin.black@mail.utoronto.ca
Carissa Siu PT Student, Year 1 carissa.siu@mail.utoronto.ca
Isha Sharma PT Student, Year 1 is.sharma@mail.utoronto.ca
Jessica Chiang PT Student, Year 1 jessica.chiang@mail.utoronto.ca
Angela Colantonio RSI Faculty angela.colantonio@utoronto.ca
Alexandra Thompson RSI Student, PhD allee.thompson@mail.utoronto.ca
Erica Dove RSI Student, MSc erica.dove@mail.utoronto.ca
Reeman Marzouqah RSI Student, PhD reeman.marzouqah@mail.utoronto.ca
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Stephanie Scodras RSI Student, PhD stephanie.scodras@mail.utoronto.ca


Fiona Höbler RSI Student, PhD fiona.hobler@utoronto.ca
Susan Wagner S-LP Faculty susan.wagner@utoronto.ca
Alyssa Waldner S-LP Student, Year 2 alyssa.waldner@mail.utoronto.ca
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Appendix C: Breakdown of Proposed Budget

YEAR 1

PERSONNEL COSTS

DESCRIPTION NUMBER AMOUNT JUSTIFICATION

1. Professional 4 15 workshops (1 hour each) The requested funds will cover the cost of hiring four
Artists and x $40/hr professionals with expertise in the creative arts. They will
Program = $600 fulfill roles in consultation and group facilitation for the
Consultation design and delivery of creative arts workshops. We
20 consultation meetings (1 estimate the need for 20 advisory consults in the first year,
hour each) x $40/hr and facilitation of 15 workshops in the first 4 months of
= $800 program implementation.
Hourly wage: $40/hr
Total = $1,400

2. Research 3 4-month contracts over the Three Research Assistants who are not involved in the
Assistants Winter 2021 academic term: project execution will be involved in the research process
to ensure there is no conflict of interest. The Research
80 hours x $15/hr (.30) Assistants will assist with collecting qualitative and
= $360 each quantitative data during Year 1. The requested funds will
be used to hire two work-study students to fulfill this role
Total = $1,080 and cover 30% of their hourly wage. In accordance with
university policies, students will be paid $15/hr (70%
covered by the Work Study program).

OTHER COSTS

DESCRIPTION NUMBER AMOUNT JUSTIFICATION

3. Supplies 15 $60 each Each workshop will utilize various supplies required for
workshops participants to create artwork or engage in an art activity.
Total = $900 The requested funds will allow for sufficient supplies to be
readily available as requested by the running Professional
Artists. It is expected that our initial spending on supplies
will decrease over time as we slowly accumulate necessary
and reusable materials.

4. Space and 1 $0 The space required to store supplies and conduct the
Storage workshops will be provided in-kind through departments
Requirements within RSI at the University of Toronto.

SUBTOTAL YEAR 1 = $3,380.00


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YEAR 2

PERSONNEL COSTS

DESCRIPTION NUMBER AMOUNT JUSTIFICATION

1. Professional 4 10 consultation meetings The requested funds will cover the cost of hiring four
Artists and (1 hour each) x $40/hr professionals with expertise in the creative arts. They will fulfill
Program = $400 roles in consultation and group facilitation for the design and
Consultation delivery of creative arts workshops. We estimate the need for 10
Workshop support (15 advisory consults in year two, and creative arts workshop
hours) x $40/hr support (e.g., training student leaders, development of workshop
= $600 handbook, outreach) over the 8 month academic year
(September 2021 - April 2022).
Total = $1,000 Hourly wage: $40/hr

2. Research 3 8-month contracts from Three Research Assistants who are not involved in the project
Assistants September 2021 - April execution will be involved in the research process to ensure there
2022. is no conflict of interest. The Research Assistants will assist with
collecting qualitative and quantitative data during Year 2. The
160 hours x $15/hr (.30) requested funds will be used to hire two work-study students to
= $720 each fulfill this role and cover 30% of their hourly wage. In
accordance with university policies, students will be paid $15/hr
Total = $2,160 (70% covered by the Work Study program).

OTHER COSTS

DESCRIPTION NUMBER AMOUNT JUSTIFICATION

3. Supplies 30 $30 each Each workshop will utilize various supplies required for
workshops participants to create artwork or engage in an art activity. The
Total = $900 requested funds will allow for sufficient supplies to be readily
available as requested by the running Professional Artists.

4. Space and 1 $0 The space required to store supplies and conduct the workshops
Storage will be provided in-kind through departments within RSI at the
Requirement University of Toronto.

SUBTOTAL YEAR 1 = 4,060.00


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YEAR 3

PERSONNEL COSTS

DESCRIPTION NUMBER AMOUNT JUSTIFICATION

1. Research 2 8-month Two Research Assistants who are not involved in the project execution
Assistants contracts from will be involved in the research process to ensure there is no conflict of
September 2022 interest. The Research Assistants will assist with data collection, analysis
- April 2023. and dissemination of findings during Year 3. The requested funds will be
used to hire two work-study students to fulfill this role and cover 30% of
160 hours x their hourly wage. In accordance with university policies, students will be
$15/hr (.30) paid $15/hr (70% covered by the Work Study program).
= $720 each

Total = $1,440

OTHER COSTS

DESCRIPTION NUMBER AMOUNT JUSTIFICATION

2. Knowledge 2 Estimated The requested funds will be used for 2 members of this initiative to attend
Translation and registration / a relevant research conference or event to share program evaluation
Outreach travel findings. This will also help to build relationships with key community
expenses = $550 stakeholders including students, researchers and clinicians within post-
each secondary mental health contexts.

Total = $1,100

SUBTOTAL YEAR 3 = $2,540

TOTAL PROJECT COST = $9,980