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Cambrian College, CMHA, Partner on Virtual Mental Teaching Materials

Jun 22, 2023

Picture: Cambrian College and the Canadian Mental Health Association – Sudbury/Manitoulin have partnered on a mental health virtual simulation teaching project. Pictured are (left to right): Natalie Chevalier (Cambrian), Karen Henze (CMHA-S/C), Laura Killam (Cambrian), June Raymond (Cambrian), Frances Cavanagh (Cambrian), Katherine Timmermans (Cambrian), Erin McPhail (Cambrian).

SUDBURY – If you are going to better serve clients with mental health care needs, you need to understand where they are coming from.

That is the philosophy behind a joint teaching project involving Cambrian College and the Canadian Mental Health Association – Sudbury/Manitoulin (CMHA-S/M).

The two organizations have partnered to develop teaching materials for Cambrian health sciences students that are based on the lived experiences of people with mental health concerns.

Students, nurses, and community agencies were surveyed about what nurses need to know to support clients who have a mental illness. Using that information, Cambrian, CMHA-S/M, and persons with lived experience co-created a realistic, interactive, free-to-use mental health virtual simulation that will be available to students in Cambrian’s various Health Sciences programs and internationally.

“What we discovered is there is a gap in knowledge and confidence among students working with clients living with a mental health condition,” explains Natalie Chevalier, a faculty member in Cambrian’s School of Health Sciences and one of the participants in the partnership. “It became pretty clear that we needed to prioritize mental health teaching and develop an immersive and flexible teaching tool. But we’re not the experts on this topic. We needed to incorporate the unique perspective of persons with lived experience, so that’s why we formed this partnership with CMHA-S/M and its clients. We could not have done this without them.”

The learning materials from this partnership will be incorporated into Cambrian’s Health Sciences programs, starting in the 2023/2024 academic year. The goal is to refine these teaching tools and then share them with other institutions.

“To have the opportunity to contribute and share what person-centered care really means, knowing that Cambrian is dedicated to enhancing the learning experience of nursing students, is something that we are very excited about,” says Karen Henze, manager of community development and housing for the CMHA-S/M. “This project closely aligns with our values and vision, and we see how it will contribute to improved health care services for all.”

Cambrian College and CMHA-S/M would like to thank Jane Tyerman of the University of Ottawa and Marian Lucktar-Flude of Queen’s University for their support and contributions to this initiative. This project has been made possible through a grant from the Canadian Alliance of Nurse Educators Using Simulation (CAN-Sim).

To learn more about Health Sciences programs at Cambrian College, including its new stand-alone Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree program, visit

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Cambrian College is Northern Ontario’s largest college, with more than 100 programs. Cambrian’s main campus is in Greater Sudbury, with satellite centres in Espanola and Little Current. For more information about Cambrian College, click here.

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