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You spot a colleague in distress – what do you do next? Find out from Ryerson University

You spot a colleague in distress – what do you do next?

Ryerson University answered this question with a workshop series known as Notice, Engage, Refer.

“A key Ryerson value is ‘People First,’ which encompasses a commitment to the creation of a safe, secure, and healthy environment… supportive of the whole person, and enhances the development of physical, mental and spiritual well-being” says Natalie Roach, the Mental Health Coordinator at Ryerson. Utilizing “People First” as a guidepost for Ryerson activities was identified in the university’s 2015 – 2019 Academic Plan, which noted mental health as a critical component.

Launched in 2016, and developed with expertise from cross-sector employees from Organizational Effectiveness, Public Health, counselling psychology and HR, what began as Mental Health 101 has evolved into Notice, Engage, Refer. The session has introduced close to three hundred Ryerson employees to tactics for supporting the mental health of those around them.

Embedded in an anti-stigma approach, this Ryerson workshop strives to increase skill at noticing when a colleague may be experiencing distress, at engaging in an empathic way, and referring to a wellbeing resource when appropriate.

With 84% of participants believing the session increased their ability to respond to mental health distress, Notice, Engage, Refer’s participants have become its greatest ambassadors. Word of mouth sparked increased demand and led the workshop to spread across the university. Through train-the-trainer events, Ryerson now has a cohort of Notice, Engage, Refer facilitators, which allows for a broad spectrum of university employees to take part in the program, including academic, maintenance and administrative staff.

“I was able to learn from someone in a different department, across campus who has a similar atmosphere,” said one participant. “I felt encouraged and more comfortable to approach a student who has been struggling.”

By recognizing all employees can play a role in creating an empathetic and caring community, Ryerson is making a real difference for their employees.

An estimated 1 in 2 people in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area’s labour force have experienced a mental health issue. Ignite mental health support in your workplace by taking the MindsMatter Assessment today.

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