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Training for Mental Health Crisis Response

Training at all levels of the institution is another way to support crisis response on college and university campuses.

Illustration of Training PresentationOne method of training found in the literature is gatekeeper training, which consists of training individuals in the community who come in contact with students often, such as course instructors and staff involved in residence. Research demonstrates that training these gatekeepers to identify individuals who are at-risk or expressing suicidality provides an effective method to reach more of the campus community. In order to be effective, the gatekeeper training must include two components. The first is increasing gatekeeper knowledge regarding suicide warning signs, risk and protective factors, and available resources. The second component is training the gatekeepers in specific skills such as active listening and persuading individuals to seek help (Wolitzky-Taylor et al., 2018). Furthermore, this specific type of training is most effective when students are included, especially when learning about available resources, how to recognize friends at risk, and screening tools (Schwartz, 2017). In addition to gatekeeper training, accessible and regular training regarding suicide prevention is also needed. The literature suggests that utilizing staff orientations and professional development to share suicide prevention information is a practical way of reaching the maximal amount of university staff members. In addition to sharing information in these sessions, a brief online training should be created for students, staff, and faculty that provides information on how to support an individual in crisis (University of Alberta Suicide Prevention Framework, 2018).

There are many other types of training that can also be considered as a compliment to gatekeeper training. These include de-escalation training, cultural humility/cultural competency training, training on the impacts of mental health on particular student populations, resilience training and trauma-informed care training. Many of these trainings can be sourced from community mental health organizations like CICMH (More Feet on the Ground) or a local Canadian Mental Health Association branch.

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