It can happen to anyone at any time – you are on campus and you overhear someone talking about harming themselves or others, or maybe someone brings it up in a conversation with you directly, or a student shares that a fellow student is bringing up the topic of harming themselves or others. What do you do next?
Unfortunately, these types of situations are not uncommon – they reflect a broader crisis in mental health across Canada, which has seen increasing rates of depression, anxiety and suicide among adults over the past 10 years, and even more so since the Covid-19 pandemic.
Like many other post-secondary institutions, MaKami has witnessed these types of circumstances first-hand.
“We have had a number of instances recently where we have had the opportunity to intervene in situations where someone was going to hurt themselves,” says Olakunle Akinyode, MaKami’s Director of the Strategic Academic Learning Team (SALT).
Akinyode, who is also a registered counselling psychologist working directly with students in Edmonton, has partnered with fellow Psychology Counsellor Dr. Aida Miloti in the MaKami Calgary campus and many of MaKami’s front line team to improve the education, awareness and protocols surrounding mental health crises on campuses with the creation of an Emergency Response Team (ERT).
“The Emergency Response Team is a team of people in Reception, Security, Management and in Supervisory roles who are the people to tell if you witness or become aware of a situation on campus involving possible mental crisis,” says Dr. Miloti. “These trained staff will determine the next best steps to take in approaching the situation and in resolving it accordingly based on the level of perceived and assessed risk.”
Dr. Miloti says while sometimes the level of involved risk may be obvious, at other times it can be more vague. “When in doubt – report it. We would rather be notified and determine there is not risk, than fail to act due to lack of information about the seriousness of the situation.”
If you or someone you know is in need of emergency assistance while off campus, please call 911.
There are also many free services available should you or someone you know need mental health support in Alberta:
- Text the Crisis Text Line – text CONNECT to 741741
- Call the Alberta Health Services mental health helpline direct at 1-877-303-2642