Recognize, Respond, Refer

Posted on Wednesday, January 27, 2021

"We know that rates of distress, burnout and mental health illness are rising as a result of the pandemic."

— Dr. Elizabeth Muggah

By Dr. Elizabeth Muggah 
Assistant Dean, Faculty Wellness Program

More than ever, the mental health of our students and trainees is a major concern. We know that rates of distress, burnout and mental health illness are rising as a result of the pandemic. Faculty, professors and staff are often well-placed to notice students who are in distress and to provide help, but sometimes aren’t sure how to do this. 

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an evidence-based approach to supporting someone facing mental problems or a mental crisis. MHFA is like regular first aid; you can administer it until appropriate professional help is received or until the crisis is resolved.

On February 23, 2021 the Faculty Wellness Program is offering “More Feet on the Ground” a MHFA training program. This course was developed in Canada and specifically targeted to support faculty and educators in post-secondary institutions. The More Feet on the Ground program includes a brief online module and follow-up, participatory virtual workshop.

This course is structured around three steps: Recognize, Respond, Refer. 

As with any first aid situation, the first step is to recognize that someone needs help. There may be physical indicators, like deterioration in physical appearance or personal hygiene; academic indicators like missed assignments; or behavioural indicators, like emotional outbursts. 

The second step is to respond to the person in need. This response will depend on a number of factors, such as your level of experience, nature and severity of the problem, and your relationship with the person experiencing a mental health crisis. 

The final step is to Refer. Teachers and faculty members are not expected to take on the role of counsellors, but they can refer students to support services. 

This workshop will provide you with knowledge, skill and information you need as an educator to help you feel confident in supporting your students. It is open to all faculty members and those in a supervisory role in both the basic science and the clinical departments. 

Participants will need to complete a 30-minute online module prior to registering for the virtual More Feet on the Ground workshop, which will take place on February 23 from 5:00-7:00 p.m.

The Faculty of Medicine is committed to the well-being of its students and to fostering good mental health. The More Feet on the Ground course is one way we can support this important goal.

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