A New Approach to Mental Health


Flourish @ X

When the discipline of psychology began, it was much closer to philosophy than a hard science. Early critics of the field stressed the importance of objectivity, for psychology to ever be taken seriously as a science. Of course, this was a positive change in many ways, as understanding the human mind requires rigorous and replicable study. Yet, there is something profound in the writings of the psychological pioneers like Carl Jung, Abraham Maslow and Viktor Frankl. It is worth questioning where the old approach to psychology may have had merit, and whether anything is being overlooked in the current approach.

In many ways, the relatively new subfield of psychology, Positive Psychology returns to the disciplines roots while maintaining scientific rigor. Though much of modern psychology is focused on retroactively treating those with mental illnesses and disorders, Positive Psychology takes a proactive approach to mental well-being. The study is concerned with identifying what it takes to lead a happy and fulfilled life.

In recent years, some universities across Canada have initiated programs which apply the findings of Positive Psychology to help the general student population maintain mental well-being. Now, StFX has launched a new concept which follows in that spirit. So, I sat down with Ivan Drouin, clinical psychologist here at StFX, to get the low-down about his exciting new project on campus this semester.

The program is called Flourish @ X, and it’s a large-scale approach to self-actualization. It is made up of a variety of events, workshops and informative talks - for students, for free. In Ivan’s words, “Just like we try to have activities to promote a good physical health, we’re trying to now have activities on campus to promote a good mental health.” Currently, the first of many workshops for Flourish @ X are underway focused on mindfulness, stress, and procrastination management. Anyone interested should not delay!

At the core of Flourish @ X is a Positive Psychology literature review of world philosophies and religions which has described 6 “cardinal virtues,” comprised of 24-character strengths which span cross-culturally, and which have direct impact on one’s happiness. Flourish @ X is aimed at helping students identify and develop these character strengths within themselves.

As mentioned previously, workshops are only one small piece to Flourish @ X. In addition, there will be Ted Talk style presentations by students, for students, meeting on the second floor of Mini Moe’s cafe. Ivan elaborates, “That’s kind of the basic of the flourishing program, offering exercises, workshops and events, to promote a better mental health for the students.”

These talks will take place on Tuesdays from five to six o’clock, on February 5, March 5, and April 2. Conversations will revolve around three main topics as of now: 1) Healthy lifestyles, 2) Healthy relationships and 3) Success at X. Presenters will be current students and recent graduates. Anyone interested in giving a talk is encouraged to contact Ivan Druin at idrouin@stfx.ca with a short, half page summary of what they would like to speak about.

Flourish @ X is in practice, but it is still developing. Down the road there may be other offerings like a collective art project, among other things. Ivan recommends that those interested visit the Facebook page, Flourish at StFX, and drop-in on an upcoming workshop. Dates for which include: January 31, February 7 and 14 from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m. in Bloomfield 427.