300 NAIT staff and students trained to provide Mental Health First Aid
Polytechnic plans to expand unique program as a new academic year begins
Over 300 staff members and students at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology – including instructors, academic advisors, peace officers and food services workers – have received basic training to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health problems and help those in distress.
It’s called Mental Health First Aid (MHFA). Just as physical first aid is given to a person before medical treatment can be provided, MHFA is given until appropriate treatment is delivered or until the crisis is resolved.
As the polytechnic prepares for the new academic year, it plans to provide basic MHFA training to another 200 staff and students in 2015-16. This training is done in house by a group of 16 staff members who work in a range of programs across NAIT’s three campuses and have been accredited by the Mental Health Commission of Canada.
Basic MHFA training is available to staff members and students from across the institute. After completing training, participants report feeling more confident in approaching distressed individuals, and providing initial help.
- NAIT’s Mental Health First Aid program began in June 2014.
- By the end of the 2015-16 academic year, NAIT expects 500 staff members and students will have completed the two-day training.
- Participants learn to:
Recognize and understand symptoms of mental health problems
Get the person experiencing distress out of danger
Provide support and refer the individual to the proper supports
- The Canadian Mental Health Association estimates 20% of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime.
- Last year, NAIT saw a 20% increase in students seen for stress and anxiety and a 35% increase in students who had been diagnosed with a mental illness.
Lara McClelland, NAIT chief strategy officer and mental health awareness committee member
“We recognize the complexity of the student population is increasing, as well as the need for counselling. We’ve equipped our staff and students with the tools to recognize the symptoms of mental health problems, get the individual out of danger and provide support. We’re committed to providing a healthy, safe and inclusive campus environment for all students and staff.”
Margaret Marean, associate chair, NAIT Counselling Services
“The demand for our services has definitely increased, and in particular, appointments with students who have significant mental health concerns. These are often related to high stress and anxiety. There has been a similar trend at post-secondary campuses across North America.”
Brett Zawadiuk, manager of NAIT Retail & Ancillary Services and Mental Health First Aid trainer
“Our department has some of the highest contact with the NAIT community on a daily basis through the services we provide, whether in our Food Services locations or Shop at NAIT outlets. We want to ensure our frontline team is equipped to identify the symptoms of mental health problems and help those in distress. Our goal is to have someone at every site our department operates trained in Mental Health First Aid.”
The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) is a leading Canadian polytechnic, delivering education in science, technology and the environment; business; health and trades. With nearly 60,000 credit and non-credit students and a 95 per cent employer satisfaction rate, NAIT grads are essential to Alberta’s prosperity. Known for hands-on, technology-based learning, NAIT engages with business and industry in applied research and innovation and provides corporate training around the world. Recognized as one of Alberta’s top employers, NAIT provides outstanding returns on investment for its graduates, partners, the provincial government and the people of Alberta.
NAIT Media Relations
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