Summer sessions focus on mental health

Summer sessions focus on mental health

By Dana Mitchell, Division of Student Affairs

July 9, 2019


[Student Wellness Services ASIST Program training]
Beth Blackett, Health Promotion Special Projects at Student Wellness Services, leads a recent session of Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), a two-day interactive workshop in suicide first-aid. (University Communications) 

Queen’s Student Wellness Services (SWS) is offering a series of new and revamped workshops for students, staff, and faculty.

This summer, SWS is facilitating a variety of mental health trainings and workshops that will help participants better understand mental health and develop skills to support those who may be struggling. Registration is filling up quickly.

Among the offerings are two new workshops delivered in collaboration with the Self-Management Program of Southeastern Ontario. ‘The Empathy Effect: Counter Bias to Improve Health Outcomes’ is a half-day workshop that focuses on how empathy can improve health; ‘Brief Action Planning’ is a full-day program that offers a practical approach to improving overall health and well-being

“Our new workshops focus on creating a culture of compassion and using self-management support techniques to help students set goals and make concrete action plans,” says Schuyler Earl, Peer Health Outreach Coordinator at SWS. “These skills are invaluable to building a caring campus community and supporting students in developing skills that help them thrive at university.”

In addition, the SWS team has revamped three of their established workshops: ‘Identifying and Responding to Students in Distress’, ‘Creating a Customized Self-Care Plan’, and ‘How to Spot, Speak Out & Stand Up to Stigma.’ These hour-long sessions help participants develop practical skills and gain insight into important topics surrounding mental health.

SWS is working to promote a more comprehensive understanding of mental illness and mental health, that is based on a dual continuum model.

“It’s important to address mental health along a continuum, instead of addressing it when we are unwell,” says Beth Blackett, Health Promotion Special Projects at SWS. “Our expanded offerings provide a wide range of trainings to help participants thrive themselves and help support others, at various points on this continuum.”

SWS is also offering several standardized mental health trainings throughout the summer. ‘safeTALK’, which was held on June 12, prepares participants to recognize people who are having thoughts of suicide by applying the TALK steps and to connect them to a suicide first-aid intervention caregiver. Due to overwhelming interest in the program, SWS is working towards offering an additional session later in the summer.

‘Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST)’ is a two-day interactive workshop in suicide first aid that teaches participants to recognize when someone may have thoughts of suicide and to work with them to create an immediate safety plan. Although the summer program is currently full, those who wish to attend can register for the November session on the SWS website.

‘Mental Health First Aid Canada’ is also available for those who wish to improve their mental health literacy. This three-day program was created by the Mental Health Commission of Canada and teaches participants how best to assist someone showing signs of a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis.

In addition to the open sessions, private workshops and trainings can be booked for individual faculties, departments and student groups. Inquiries can be directed to

SWS will continue to offer their expanded workshop and training programs in the fall and winter semesters.

Visit the SWS website for more information and to register