Mind Your Mind: Mental health training to reduce stigma

One of the best ways to fight the stigma associated with mental health is by increasing your mental health literacy through education.

There are a few mental health trainings and programs that are targeted towards the general population — you don’t have to be a professional to attend. I have attended several trainings over the years and I’m grateful I had the opportunity to not only learn more about mental health, but also ways to support my loved ones who might be struggling. In my experience, these trainings have helped me become more aware and confident, and I am now equipped with tools I can carry with me wherever I go because mental health affects everyone!

Mental Health First Aid

It’s like first aid, but for mental health! This training was created by the Mental Health Commission of Canada. It teaches participants about four categories of mental health concerns: mood disorders, substance related disorders, anxiety and trauma as well as psychotic disorders.

The goal of the training is to give participants’ knowledge and tools so they are better able to interact about mental health with their loved ones, friends, communities and coworkers.

It’s a two-day training and it’s totally worth it! Mental Health First Aid is the perfect introductory training for those who wish to gain crisis first aid skills and help reduce the stigma. UBC hosted a mental health first aid training last summer for student leaders and hopefully, they will again in the near future!

QPR Suicide Prevention Training

This two-hour training is internationally recognized as a suicide prevention program. It helps participants learn how to Question, Persuade and Refer.

QPR certification contributes to suicide awareness and prevention. Participants first learn how to recognize suicide related warning signs. Then, participants learn how to approach someone who may be at risk and how to persuade the person to seek appropriate health services.

UBC offers QPR training for all staff, students and faculty for free! If you are available to attend one of their training session throughout the year, I would highly recommend it. I have done this training myself and found it helpful, especially if you have never received previous training in suicide prevention.

Check out the Thrive website for information.


SafeTalk is a half-day training that also covers suicide awareness and prevention. Like their website states, the training will teach participants how to notice and respond to situations where suicidal thoughts might be present; recognize that invitations for help are often overlooked; move beyond the common tendency to miss, dismiss and avoid suicide; and apply the TALK steps: Tell, Ask, Listen and KeepSafe. The training will also showcase community resources and discuss how to connect someone with thoughts of suicide to these resources for further help.

All details can be found at the Living Works website.

Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST)

Finally, the ASIST training is a two-day workshop coordinated by LivingWorks Education that specifically addresses suicide. This training is targeted towards the general public, but a lot of the participants are involved in the mental health community or work in an environment like college campuses. As a peer facilitator, I took this training with some of my peers from UBC. Through this training, I had the opportunity to reflect on my own biases and attitudes towards suicide; learn how to apply suicide first aid to someone at risk; and gain knowledge about the many resources in our community.

For more info, check out the ASIST website.

Overall, I personally think that those interested in mental health trainings should complete Mental Health First Aid with an additional training in suicide prevention. That way, you get a basic frame of reference and gain valuable skills that can be applied in many situations. Even though those trainings are focused on helping somebody else, I have found them to be helpful in my own life. It’s never too late to learn something new, so even though it sounds daunting, give it a try!

The authors of this column are not mental health professionals. If you need additional support, please contact Student Health Services, Sexual Assault Support Centre and/or the Wellness Centre. In case of an emergency, call 911.

If you have feedback or want to see something covered in a future Mind Your Mind, email d.levesque@ubyssey.ca