After a year of learning from home and strict COVID-19 restrictions, the return to in-person classes and campus life may be an experience that is impacting the mental health of students.
It’s why the Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington and the University of Guelph are collaborating on a new project that will see an IMPACT worker on campus to help students struggling with their mental health.
IMPACT stands for integrated mobile police and crisis team. The workers are specially trained mental health clinicians. They can help students who are contemplating suicide and have been trained in safety planning, mental health assessments and de-escalation techniques, the association said.
“There is concern and evidence that people may be struggling with their mental health during the pandemic,” Alison Burnett, director of student wellness services at the university, said in a release about the new program.
“We want to increase the resources available.”
The mental health association’s IMPACT workers have been collaborating with the Guelph Police Service since 2015 on calls where a person is believed to be experiencing a mental health crisis. They’ve also worked with the Waterloo Regional Police Service and the Ontario Provincial Police.
Jeff Stanlick, the director of services for Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington, said having a worker at the University of Guelph now comes at a crucial time.
“This year is especially exceptional as students return to campus. The added pressures that the fourth wave — and ongoing pandemic — challenges bring, demand the need for accessible mental health care across the board,” he said in the release.
Starting Oct. 21, the IMPACT worker will be on campus Thursdays from, 3 p.m. to midnight, and Friday through Sunday from 2 p.m. to midnight.
“Student wellness staff who encounter individuals at risk during the week can proactively flag potential concerns with the IMPACT worker before the weekend,” the release about the project said.
If you are in crisis or know someone who is, here is where to get help:
CAMH WW hotline: 1-800-463-2338
Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868, Live Chat counselling at www.kidshelpphone.ca
Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566