By Breeonne Baxter on January 23, 2017
UBC’s Suicide Awareness Day is Jan. 25, 2017. Each year, this day is held to bring awareness to the UBC campus community regarding suicide prevention by educating students, staff and faculty on the resources available to them on campus.
As heads and leaders at UBC, we ask that you help us to start a conversation about suicide prevention with everyone in the University community.
Most people who take their own lives show some signs that they are thinking about it beforehand. As a head of unit, we encourage you to learn how to reach out in case you have colleagues or students in need of support.
Learn about the warning signs for suicide at http://thrive.ubc.ca/prevent-suicide/.
Assisting students in distress involves three basic principles: See, say, and do something.
See something: Pay attention to warning signs
You may be the first person to see signs that a student is in distress. It’s important to pay attention to warning signs. Mental health concerns can have a significant impact on everyday life, including academics.
Say something: Trust your instincts
Say something if you’re worried about a student or if they leave you feeling concerned. It’s okay to share your concerns about a student with someone else at the University in order to provide the student with support.
Do something: Reach out and help
A student may not know help is available or may hesitate to ask for it. Connect the student with resources and identify your concerns using Early Alert.
- Download Printable guides to helping students in distress: Green Folder (Vancouver campus) | Blue Folder (Okanagan campus)
Supporting your colleagues in distress involves similar principles to supporting students:
See Something: Recognize visible changes in behavior
If you see behaviour that is out of character or unusual for your colleagues, know that early intervention plays a key role in recovery from mental health challenges.
Say Something: Respond with concern and empathy
Often we may notice changes in behaviour, but are unsure how to approach a person having difficulties. Reaching out to a colleague shows care and concern, and opens a dialogue to check how they are doing.
Do Something: Refer your colleague to available resources
Staff and faculty may not be aware of the wide range of support services available to them, or may be hesitant to ask for help. There are ways to connect your colleagues to resources, or to learn about them together.
If you or a colleague are experiencing an emergency or crisis and require immediate counselling services, call UBC’s EFAP provider, Shepell, at 1-800-387-4765 and select the emergency option to speak to a crisis counsellor. More information on UBC’s Employee & Family Assistance Program at http://hr.ubc.ca/efap/.
Empowering yourself with knowledge and taking advantage of support can help you become more resilient when faced with challenges. http://thrive.ubc.ca/get-help/
Other Ways to Raise Awareness for Suicide Prevention at UBC
Wear orange: Wear orange on Jan. 25 to show your support for those whose lives have been affected by the suicide of friends, family members, students, or colleagues, and to show that you want to reach out to those who are considering suicide. http://thrive.ubc.ca/2017/01/09/suicide-awareness/
Take the Suicide Myths and Facts Quiz: Knowing the facts is an important part of raising suicide awareness, preventing suicide, and combating stigma. Test your knowledge by taking the quiz.
Learn more about how to prevent suicide: If you need help for yourself or if you are concerned about someone else, reach out and help prevent suicide: http://thrive.ubc.ca/prevent-suicide/
In-person trainings: Sign up for Suicide Prevention Training (QPR), or arrange a QPR training session in your unit.
By Breeonne Baxter on October 20, 2016
By David Geselbracht on December 10, 2013
Mahony & Sons pub was packed with people, but not for your typical pub event. Throughout the night on November 4th several talks were given and discussions had on an oft-neglected subject: men’s mental health.
“There’s stigma around mental health in general,” said UBC’s Geoff Soloway, one of the night’s organizers, “But there are some additional and different types of stigmas for men, and being willing to talk about them, and overcoming the different stereotypes, expectations and barriers to reaching out, is important.”
Mental health awareness is something UBC has made a priority. The event – ‘Movember at Mahony’s’ – was a collaboration between the Men’s Depression and Suicide Network, Human Resources, and Thrive, which itself is a week long campaign that promotes mental health on the UBC campus. And since it was November, the event coincided perfectly with the men’s mental health awareness initiative of Movember.
Dr. Marvin Westwood is a professor of counseling psychology and co-founder of the Veterans Transition Program, a group-based therapy program that helps Canadian veterans manage symptoms related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He described how the stigma around words like depression and suicide often scare men from seeking help when they need it. By approaching the subject differently, he said, his team has achieved incredible results.
Dr. Westwood has found that men just want successful lives with their kids and partners, but when clinical language is used that distances them, or makes them feel like there is something wrong with them – they just won’t seek help.
“What we tend to focus on here is how to help men be successful, and get resources when they need them,” said Dr. Westwood, “Without putting them in a box.”
Tim Laidlaw is a graduate student in psychology at UBC, as well as a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who participated in the Veterans Transition Program. He talked about his experiences in Afghanistan, and his difficulty transitioning back to Canadian society, after spending so much time in a military environment.
“When I came home I didn’t have the tools,” he said. “I didn’t know how to ask for help, and I didn’t even know the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist.”
Laidlaw said this lack of knowledge doesn’t just extend to military men, but men in general. And if there is anything he learned from his time at the Veterans Transition Program – which is applicable to all men – it’s that getting men to start asking for help is the first step to solving their mental health issues.
In between each speaker, the audience was given around ten minutes to discuss mental health issues, sharing their own experiences and listening to each other’s stories.
Soloway heard many positive conversations and believes the event was an excellent step in the right direction.
“This event at Mahony’s is a real mark of the integration and collaboration between students, staff, and faculty here at UBC,” he said, “as we work together to create an initiative around mental health.”