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UOIT staff, faculty learn about mental health first aid in the workplace

Jennifer Laffier, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education (FEd), UOIT.
Jennifer Laffier, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education (FEd), UOIT.

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), Jennifer Laffier, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education (FEd), led a workshop for staff and faculty about mental health first aid in the workplace.

Laffier, who was also recently appointed Senior Trainer with Mental Health First Aid Canada (MFHA), a sub-division of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, gave a condensed version of the two-day training program offered by MFHA to UOIT employees. Stressing the importance of mental health first aid, she told the group, "Statistically, you'll need to use this more often than physical first aid in your lifetime.”

“Mental health first aid is about supporting a person with mental health problems until that individual can get appropriate professional help or the issue is resolved,” she added.

Laffier briefly reviewed with the group five actions they can use when giving mental health first aid. Identified by the acronym ALGEE, the following actions can be completed in any order:

  • Assess the risk of suicide and/or harm
  • Listen to the person non-judgementally
  • Give reassurance and information
  • Encourage the person to get appropriate professional help
  • Encourage other support

There are mental health first aid training programs planned for UOIT faculty and staff in the near future, but Laffier says the first step is becoming Mindsight-certified.

Developed by Dr. Wendy Stanyon, Associate Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS), Mindsight is an easy-to-use training tool designed to help alleviate the stigma around mental illness. The program is open to everyone and is free. Mindsight takes less than two hours to complete and can be completed one module at a time.

For mental health first-aid courses outside of UOIT, go to