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'Recovery, perseverance and drive': Health Promotion grad shares struggles with mental health while completing her degree

Posted by Terry Murray-Arnold on June 22, 2021 in News
Catherine Armour will be continuing her studies at Dal in the MA Health Promotion program.
Catherine Armour will be continuing her studies at Dal in the MA Health Promotion program.

Convocation Q&A: Catherine Armour

Congratulations to all of our Dal Health Class of 2021! To celebrate Spring Convocation 2021, we chatted with students from across Dal Health.

  • Name: Catherine Armour
  • Pronouns: she/her
  • Degree: BSc Health Promotion (Honours)
  • Where you’re from: Kemptville, Ontario

How significant is it for you to receive this degree?

I experienced a really debilitating mental illness about halfway through my program and there was a time when I really couldn’t see myself finishing the degree. This accomplishment is significant to my family, my friends, and me because it symbolizes recovery, perseverance, and drive - my ability to do hard things. During my challenges with mental health, this degree was grounding for me and it gave me a tangible goal to focus on and work towards achieving.

What were the highlights of your degree?

There are so many experiences and milestones during my degree that made my time enjoyable. Exploring the beautiful East Coast and living with friends top the charts, but my greatest highlight came this past school year. In September 2020, along with the help of some amazing friends, I launched the Ninety Percent Society (NPS). NPS is a ratified society at Dalhousie dedicated to supporting students living with eating disorders. Over the past year, we’ve cultivated a strong community and have made a great impact in de-stigmatizing mental illness in the student population. If you’re interested in joining this school year, reach out to us at

What will you miss about your time at Dal?

Though I’ll be continuing my graduate studies at Dalhousie this Fall, there are certainly aspects of my undergraduate experience that simply can’t be matched! I’m extremely proud of my friends that I’ve made over the last four years. Many of them will be spread across the country (and the world!) as they enter this new chapter of their lives. More than anything, I’ll miss running into friends on campus, studying together over coffee, and tearing up the dance floor at SAHHPer Ball.

What was your journey to Dal and to this program?

I grew up in a very small town in Ontario, and I knew that I wanted to be far away post-secondary. My older brother (graduated 2020) chose Dalhousie, which immediately had me considering the same when I was applying to schools. My choice to study Health Promotion was not well thought through to be honest. I was interested in health, working with people, and not having to take a chemistry course. I figured I’d give HPRO a try, and I could always switch if I needed to. After a few weeks of studies, with the most supportive professors and classmates, I knew that I had made the right decision - I haven’t looked back since!

What topics/research/work did you become passionate about during your education?

Since the beginning of my degree, I’ve had an interest in topics relating to harm reduction, mental health, and housing. During my third year, I decided to take on the challenge of Honours - completing research and writing a thesis. I worked alongside Dr. Jacquie Gahagan to produce a thesis that explored how the housing experiences of Canadian LGBT Baby Boomers can contribute to social isolation. More recently, I’ve grown passionate about advocacy for eating disorders and access to quality mental health treatment in Canada. As I continue in academia, this is a topic that I’ll be focusing on heavily.

How did COVID-19 impact you during your studies?

The pandemic began in Nova Scotia just as I was preparing to present my Honours Thesis proposal at the annual Crossroads Interdisciplinary Health Research Conference. My mum was visiting that weekend, and before our eyes, the world had completely changed. COVID-19 certainly uprooted the way I imagined myself completing my undergrad, but it also allowed for opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise. During my final semester, I completed an internship remotely from Halifax with Hopewell Eating Disorder Support Centre; a non-profit organization based in Ottawa, ON.

What’s next for you?

This summer, I’m honoured to be working with the MacEachen Institute for Public Policy and Governance on a project that’s in partnership with the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP). In the Fall, I’ll be continuing my academic career with Dal’s MA Health Promotion program. I’m looking forward to completing some research that will improve Canadians’ access to clinical eating disorder treatment, particularly in Nova Scotia. Apart from employment and academics, I’ll be making time for travel and adventure with my partner, Logan!