Mental health workers will be available to help campus security officers respond to student calls at the University of Guelph this year.

The mental health intervention program is designed to help students in crisis, the university said in a news release. Mental health workers will be available four days a week through a new partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association of Waterloo-Wellington.

The program will come into effect on Oct. 21 as part of a one-year pilot.

Alison Burnett, who is the director of Student Wellness Services at the U of G, said she believes they are the first university to send mental health professionals out with campus security.

“With the return to campus for classes, there is concern and evidence that people may be struggling with their mental health during the pandemic,” she said in a news release. “We want to increase the resources available.”

Workers on the Integrated Mobile Police and Crisis Team (IMPACT) will be dispatched to calls with a security officer through the Campus Security Office.

Most of the response to those calls, including transferring people to hospital or referring them to services both on and off campus, will be done by the IMPACT worker trained in intervention and assessment, the news release said.

“With IMPACT, you have a highly trained person who knows what the resources are and how to assess people,” said David Lee, director of the Campus Safety Office, in the release. “They can tell us whether someone can be best cared for and supported in hospital or on campus.”

IMPACT workers will be on campus Thursdays from 3 p.m. to midnight, and Friday through Sunday 2 p.m. to midnight.

Staff can also flag concerns throughout the week to IMPACT workers when they come to campus.


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