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From enforcement to coffee and compassion: Trauma informed care at Edmonton City Centre

Have you ever had the feeling that things “aren’t just quite right” – that you could be doing things differently and getting better results? Have you ever experienced a convergence of events that made you realize things needed to change? This is a story about these very experiences – and how critical reflection, courageous action, and linkages between a large business and community-based mental health and addictions agencies has generated ground breaking changes in downtown Edmonton.

Sometimes an epiphany shatters our vision of what is right and doable. At Edmonton City Centre, “security” means something entirely different today than it did a few short years ago. Arrests of “trespassers” are down. Inclusion, respect, a listening ear, kind words, linkages to services, and donations of coffee, food and clothing to those who could be considered “vulnerable” are up. What’s happening at Edmonton City Centre has the potential to transform hundreds, if not thousands of lives, yet the “technology” is simple and something anyone can provide: respect, compassion and an understanding of how trauma can impact our lives.

A moment of insight made Pam Brown, Safety and Security Manager for Oxford Properties at Edmonton City Centre, realize that people seeking shelter and safety in the mall shouldn’t be treated with scorn and disdain, nor should they be arrested and criminalized. Rather, they should be seen, heard and respected as valued customers of the mall and part of the social fabric of the downtown community. And, as part of that community, Edmonton City Centre should be a supportive environment for all its members, including those navigating the challenges of serious mental illness and/or addiction, homelessness, and poverty.

Pam Brown, Safety & Security Manager, and Sean Kirk, General Manager, Oxford Properties Group, Edmonton City Centre

Pam Brown, Safety & Security Manager, and Sean Kirk, General Manager, Oxford Properties Group, Edmonton City Centre

Following that insight, Oxford Properties shifted from a policing and enforcement model of mall security to a compassion- and trauma-informed approach. In the first year of doing so, arrests in the mall went from 800 in a year, to 30. Instead of landing in court or jail, vulnerable people are now being seen, heard, respected, included and connected to addiction, mental health and social services. They know that City Centre’s security agents are there to support them, not to make their lives more difficult. Brown’s spark of insight yielded an innovative approach that is compassionate and trauma informed and that has exponentially expanded the reach of traditional addiction and mental health services. This approach has created informal links to addiction, mental health and social services, and, in and of itself, promotes mental health and wellbeing. All of this is delivered in a shopping mall – a non-traditional setting – by informed lay persons using minimal resources within existing structures, and through business – agency partnerships.

Oxford Properties Group owns and operates Edmonton City Centre and some 50 million square feet of real estate in Canada, including numerous shopping malls in Alberta. More than 1.5 million people work in, shop at, live in or visit one of Oxford’s properties around the world, every day.

Brown’s advice? This is something anyone can do: “Just take the first step and see what happens. What’s the worst that could go wrong? And taking that step gives others permission to do it too.”

One million visitors pass through the doors of Edmonton City Centre every year. Many of those guest have experienced or are experiencing significant trauma in their lives. They may be living with the scars of adverse childhood events (ACES) or they may have fallen on hard times, unable to find work or housing; many are living with serious mental illness and its constant and debilitating companions – stigma and discrimination. And, many rely on substances to ease the pain of it all. For these people, the mall is not only a place to shop or get a coffee; it is a sanctuary.

Those who don’t understand, haven’t walked in their shoes, call them “zombies” or “weirdos” give them a wide berth, rush past, pretending not to see. But Brown, Oxford Properties and Paladin Security see them as human beings with a story, perhaps a harrowing life path that none would envy. The last thing they need is to be arrested. The first thing they need is to be seen as worthy and valuable human beings – and that might just be enough to save their lives.

Brown has worked at City Centre mall for 36 years. Over that time, there have been 20 deaths by suicide in the mall. In various roles over the years, she heard about these deaths and in some cases, wrote reports about them. But, she never allowed these tragedies to “sink in”:

I developed this shell and it’s like, ‘Okay, I didn’t make this choice’ and I’d offer up a prayer and move on.”

But, a convergence of events and insights, including three deaths by suicide at the mall within 18 months and another critical incident involving a vulnerable person made Pam realize something needed to change – that there is a better way of doing things – that there must be care and compassion and an understanding that there might be trauma somewhere. These are human beings who need someone, and that it might simply be a kind word that saves someone’s life:

Pam: “There’s got to be care and compassion. We’ve got to understand that there may be trauma somewhere … we don’t know their story and we have to try and manage this first with care, compassion, customer service, and if that doesn’t work, then you go into the policing model kind of thing…I realized we’re in the middle of a business centre – it’s a shopping centre, it’s not social services. But we should first think, ‘This is a human being who needs somebody, and it might be a kind word that saves their life’, and so that person may be very vulnerable.”

Pam also realized that at some point, any one of us might be vulnerable – herself, people on her security team, business owners in three-piece suits. In particular, she noted that some of Oxford’s security agents had attended all three of the recent deaths by suicide and might be vulnerable:

“But then, our security agent might be vulnerable as well…so we have to teach the security team and the whole property – we have to teach them that when you’re feeling vulnerable, you might not be the right person to approach this, or you may be the perfect person to approach this, but you have to know who you are.“

Around the same time, a successful enforcement effort to curb illegal activity in the mall was wrapping up. All things combined, Pam recognized it was time for her team to shift out of enforcement mode toward a support capacity – making the mall a safe and inclusive place for all of its patrons, including in particular its more vulnerable ones:

“Let’s be the good guys because we were the bad guys for years here. So, let’s be the good guys now. Let’s change that around; let’s start seeing what we can do. Let’s see if we can provide a little bit of support capacity in some way.”

But, how to do that? Not knowing exactly where or how to start, she began simply by calling various agencies for support:

“I had no idea how I was going to do it at the time, but you know, we had to figure it out somehow –even if it was to sit and talk with people for a few minutes and then phone somebody. And, we did a lot of phone calling in the beginning – the police Mental Health Unit, CMHA, social service agencies.”

And, she found Jenny Jones, Director of Crisis Support at The Support Centre, to talk with Oxford’s security staff about how to identify signs of suicidal intention – a very good first step. What “compassion-focused” mall security looks like: Safety, trusting relationships and linkages to formal services With a new vision for compassion-focused security in mind, a practice shift was needed. The existing security service provider had an excellent record of enforcement but struggled with the shift to a support role. When contract renewal time came, Oxford Properties set out new requirements aligned with a compassion-focused security model. Paladin Security rose to the top of candidates and was selected to take on the work. They understood the need for a compassionate approach from the beginning:

Pam: “Paladin walked in and they got it from the very beginning… They hired the right people to provide customer service and right off the bat, they started working with our teams on the floor and our Central Service people.”

From a compassion-based model, the approach is to understand that there may be trauma in peoples’ lives, to see people, to connect, to engage in conversation, listen, build rapport and trust, and whenever appropriate and possible, link to helpful supports. If these efforts fail to calm disruptive behaviours, then the person may be escorted by the security agent out of the building, oftentimes to appropriate and nearby services. Every effort is made to avoid arrests and criminalization except in the case of illegal activities.

Pam: “We’ve moved from arresting everybody who is trespassing to walking them out. For two reasons. One is for somebody who is having a bad day – who has mental health issues or trauma of some kind –they shouldn’t have a criminal record. We don’t want to give them a criminal record – we try to avoid criminalization; and the other thing is if people have a severe mental illness, how can you arrest them?”

Arrests are not only an insult to dignity and wellbeing; they are a double whammy for people who struggle to navigate the court system. Some have wound up in jail and experienced the associated downward spiral that often follows, simply because they lacked the means to appear in court for “trespassing” charges at the appointed time.

Edmonton City Centre mall

Edmonton City Centre. Photo courtesy of Oxford Properties Group.

With the new approach to security in place, security agents are developing trusting relationships with members of the mall’s more vulnerable population. The mall is viewed by many now as a safe space even safe enough to share thoughts of suicide. And the security team has become a connector – an informal linkage to formal addiction, mental health and social services that are in close proximity to the mall. Pam describes the kind of encounters that occur now:

“We have to talk to people and say, ‘Listen, you know, tell me what’s going on. People are really upset by the fact that you’re shouting… Can I help you?’ And so, for people that are displaying signs “of trauma, we try to approach them and let them know that we see them. And, what we’re finding is that when they know we see them, we know when they’re having a bad day… Most of the time they’ll nod, and they’ll say ‘Hi’, but on some days you know that life has just gotten out of hand and they’re not that happy. But they know they can trust us. So, we’ve got quite a few people who come for coffee and come for their meals and maybe a little bit of shopping and they feel safe enough to do that because they know that we’ll take care of them.

There’s a number of people who approach our security team to say, ‘I’m going to take my life today’, and we know they’re looking for help. They’re at their wit’s end, so we get them to WIN House or we get them to whatever agency we can, and if they’re not accepting that kind of help, we usually call the police because it’s probably more than we can handle… So there’s quite a few of those conversations.I think this is because the community knows that that conversation can be had here… while we aren’t a social services agency, I think people feel like we’re less judgmental than other locations, so they feel safe coming here.”

Paladin’s security team, alongside Oxford’s front line workers, also provides more tangible forms of support. They gather donations such as winter coats and shoes and second hand items in good form and offer these to mall patrons in need of such things. They also offer coffee and meals and have the discretion, under Oxford Properties’ policy, to spend up to $500 to meet customer needs.

Pam: If somebody comes in without a pair of shoes, we go through our box first to see if there’s some that will fit them – coats, mitts, hats, gloves – because people steal other peoples’ shoes downtown, so they come here thinking maybe they can warm up. They don’t ask for a pair of shoes, but we see them without shoes and we’ll see if we’ve got a pair that works for them. One of our agents saw a guy without shoes, realized he had big feet and probably wasn’t going to find anything, so [our agent] took his expensive shoes off, gave them to this guy and bought another pair for himself.

These are frontline people coming up with this…. It was one of the Paladin people that said, “When ‘Roll up the Rim’ comes, we should just save all the free doughnuts, the muffins, the coffees and hand them out if somebody needs coffee and a muffin’…. We’ll buy coffee or a meal and we reimburse people who do that. Very compassionate people… all that was at a grassroots level.”

This generosity has had some very welcome yet unanticipated consequences for the Edmonton City Centre security team – it has allowed them to express their compassion, generosity and humanity. It is a better feeling to be the “good guys”, to get to know people and to be able to express their humanity and generosity on the job, rather than being “enforcers”

Pam: “It was like they were waiting for permission to be good people, they are innately good people, but they just wanted to show that.” And while it can be frustrating at times to walk people out of the building, it is much easier than arresting and criminalizing them. By helping people rather than making their lives more difficult, the security agents feel better about themselves.”

Pam: “It’s easier on our agents – maybe a lot more frustrating – but it’s easier on their psyche when they’re able to walk somebody out …rather than arrest them and criminalize them, and make their day worse than it already is… You develop a stronger team when they see the individuals they’re dealing with are human beings and they make choices that are based on those individuals being human beings – and not just some kind of policy. It’s like when you go to the doctor and he sees you as a symptom rather than a human being. Well, the behaviour is a symptom of something that’s happened … that person needs to be treated like a person… it’s easier on the agents. It makes their life better. They feel better about themselves when they get home.”

Paladin Security also recognizes that initiatives like this help grow careers. Since most young security agents have their sights on a career in policing, having this in their resumé enhances their advancement prospects for two reasons. This is because they know how to take care of their own mental health; and second, they also recognize there is a better way of approaching situations involving vulnerable and marginalized people. They can support individuals in ways that don’t involve “policing” by referring individuals to the agency that can serve them best.

Of course, this is not to say that Edmonton City Centre is now a place where “any behaviour goes”. To the contrary, security agents strive to be good citizens, good representatives of the property, and good members of and partners with the downtown community. As such, they continually balance compassion with enforcement as needed to ensure illegal behaviours are squelched, and that the mall is a pleasant and safe space for everyone. In this way, they serve mall customers, tenants and vendors, but also the broader community of which the mall is a part:

Pam: “As long as we keep behaviour within the expected social norms, then we’re serving our tenants and our vendors and we’re serving our community, so that’s what we try to do.”

Paladin Security also sees this as a far-reaching initiative. Having numerous contracts in the downtown core, they often see many of the same people who frequent Edmonton City Centre, thereby extending their compassion-based approach beyond the mall.

Formalizing the approach: Compassion to Action training

Early educational efforts to help security staff recognize suicidal intentions were a helpful and important starting point, but more was needed – particularly that people need to also be able to take care of their own mental health while responding and afterward. Oxford Properties and Paladin Security see the need for a proactive approach that will help prevent development of mental health problems for their own staff who attend traumatic events:

Pam: “I’m still not satisfied that we’re doing enough for the young security team because they are young and right now they all think they’re invulnerable – they’re going to see this stuff and it’s never going to bother them – but as you grow older you kind of realize that maybe it does bother you because you never examined it and never came to terms with it and one day it pops up.”

Given the deaths by suicide at the mall, Edmonton Police Services invited Pam to sit as a business person on the Edmonton Suicide Prevention Strategy Implementation Planning Committee. Here, she became an ambassador for business, and she connected with numerous mental health, addiction and social service agencies. And it’s where she met David Rust, Project Lead for the Community Mental Health Action Plan.

Through discussion with David and others on the Committee, the idea of developing a training program for security staff and, ultimately business owners in the mall, began to grow. Now, a more formalized training plan has been developed and tested. Oxford Properties collaborated with experts in trauma, addiction, mental health literacy, treatment and training and the Community

Mental Health Action group to design and deliver a mix of online and classroom training called “Compassion to Action”. Training content was developed collaboratively by Line Perron, Training Consultant with the Community Mental Health Action Plan, with Oxford Properties and Paladin Security. This one-day training focuses on moving from “protection to connection” and trauma informed care (TIC), which encourages understanding people through the lens of “What happened to you?”, rather than“What’s wrong with you?”. TIC also emphasizes understanding how what has happened to people shapes who they are today and how they behave. This includes learning about adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), what to look for, how to create an environment of engagement, and how to connect with people who have experienced trauma in their lives. Practical advice about connecting with local agencies is also included. Finally, the training helps participants learn how to keep one’s mind “solid” when responding to traumatic events such as deaths by suicide; how to protect and maintain one’s own mental health; and, how to ask for help when needed.The immediate target audience is the security team at Edmonton City Centre, but the ultimate aim is to provide training and information to all tenants of the mall with the intention of making the mall a welcoming, safe, inclusive, trauma informed environment.

Pam: “All of our tenants need to know what our security agents know because there’s a barrier for them too – they see homeless people, people with addictions, people with mental illness amongst all the regular people in their stores – having the information available online and in class for them as well [will help them] understand that this is what our society is comprised of – and that you can’t ignore these people; they don’t go away.”

David Rust believes this training will help shift the culture around mental health and addiction to one of greater compassion, inclusion and connection in Edmonton. It will change how people are welcomed, engaged and supported at Edmonton City Centre. Rust anticipates vulnerable persons will be treated better and be less victimized, and that in fact, this appears to be happening already:

David Rust: “People in the mall will now be treated better or even less victimized – you can see that already… I’d love to see the same kind of engagement from someone that works in a watch shop in the mall – that they can begin to engage the mall’s vulnerable persons differently, too.”

Ripple effects…

Edmonton City Centre mall interior.

Edmonton City Centre. Photo courtesy of Oxford Properties Group.

Edmonton’s Downtown Business Association recently asked Pam Brown to speak about the changes the mall has made. What she shared with them was that Oxford Properties is changing the community. And Oxford is continuing its commitment to the community, most recently through partnership with the City of Edmonton on its’ RECOVER: Urban Wellness Plan.

Pam: “As an offshoot of this project we have also entered into a project with the City of Edmonton. We are seeking alternate methods of engaging the community, involving all the Oxford staff and not just the security providers, so that the vulnerable have more to do in their day giving them something more to look forward to than just the same routine each day. This collaboration with the City of Edmonton truly underscores our commitment to the community and we are excited to see what we can accomplish.”

Oxford is also finding that other corporations are now wanting to employ their security agents:

“What we’re seeing right now is that a lot of other corporations not only want security agents wearing our uniform – and it’s an Oxford uniform – they want the people because there’s presence, there’s compassion, there’s empathy and care.”

Given the millions of people who pass through the mall each year, and even more powerfully, the vast number of major retail and office spaces owned by Oxford Properties Group in Alberta and around the world, the potential influence of this initiative is staggering in its potential.

Trauma-Informed Care Resources

Alberta Health Services. Trauma informed care modules. https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/info/page15526.aspx

Alberta Health Services. Why Welcoming is Important handout: https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/assets/info/amh/if-amhecc-why-welcoming-is-important-qrs.pdf

Arthur, E., Seymour, A., Dartnall, M., Beltgens, P., Poole, N., Smylie, D., … Schmidt, R. (2013). Trauma-informed practice guide. Vancouver, B.C: BC Provincial Mental Health and Substance Use Planning Council.

Barnett Brown, V. 2018. Through a trauma lens. Transforming health and behavioral health systems. New York: Routledge.

Bloom, S. & Farragher, B. 2013 Restoring sanctuary. A new operating system for trauma-informed systems of care.New York: Oxford University Press.

Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse Trauma Informed Care http://www.ccsa.ca/Resource%20Library/CCSA-Trauma-informed-Care-Toolkit-2014-en.pdf

Harris, M., & Fallot, R. D. (2001). Envisioning a trauma-informed service-system: A vital paradigm shift. New Directions in Mental Health Services, 89, 3-22.

Manitoba Trauma Information and Education Centre (MTIEC). 2013. Trauma-informed: The trauma toolkit (2nd ed.). Winnipeg, MB: Author.

Manitoba Trauma Information and Education Centre: http://trauma-informed.ca

Poole, N., & Greaves, L. (Eds.). 2012. Becoming trauma informed. Toronto, ON: CAMH. SAMHSA. 2013. TIP 57 Trauma-informed care in behavioral health systems. Author.

2021-09-13T17:11:47+00:00Shared Wisdom|

On the Agenda

This series of videos, presentation slides and supporting materials can help trainers, team leaders, manager or others to pave the way for discussions and action aimed at developing a psychologically healthy and safe workplace. The 13 psychological workplace factors have been identified, through a large body of research, as the main areas of concern related to psychological health and safety in the workplace, offered through WSMH. (1-2 hours per module)

Competency: Knowledge, Behavioural

Audience: Management and Staff

Cost: Free

Being a Mindful Employee: An Orientation to Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace

This free online training program offered by CCOHS is about psychological health and safety in the workplace. The goal is to help an employer understand the 13 psychosocial workplace factors from the National Standard of Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace and what you can do to help yourself and others in the workplace. (75 minutes)

Competency: Knowledge

Audience:  Staff

Cost: Free

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety

This website offers a Mental Health E-course package. This package of E-courses is intended to help employers understand mental health issues in the workplace. Modules include: Mental Health Awareness; Health and Wellness; Signs, Symptoms and Solutions; Psychologically Healthy Workplaces; Communication

Competency: Knowledge

Audience: Management and Staff

Cost: $169

Gender Based Analysis Plus. GBA+

SWC has an analytical process used to assess how diverse groups of women, men and non-binary people may experience policies, programs and initiatives. It acknowledges the need to go beyond biological (sex) and socio-cultural (gender) differences and considers many other identity factors,like race, ethnicity, religion, age, and mental or physical disability. (2 hrs.)

Competency: Knowledge, Behavioural

Audience: Management and Staff

Cost: Free

Working Through It

This can be used in workplaces: 1) As a private resource for individuals who may be struggling with health, personal, financial or workplace issues, and are looking for practical strategies and inspirational stories to help them cope. In this section you can learn how to share this opportunity with those who may benefit. 2) To provide awareness education for supervisors, managers, union stewards or other leaders whose responsibilities include supporting or managing employees who may have mental health issues. From WSMH (duration not specified)

Competency: Knowledge

Audience: Management and Staff

Cost: Free

Certified Psychological Health and Safety Advisor

This ground-breaking certification training program is for individuals and consultants who want to help organizations improve psychological health and safety in their workplaces or implement the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (the Standard). (2 day)

Competency: Knowledge, Behavioural, Activating

Audience: Management (large organizations)

Cost: $1500

Mental Health Works

Mental Health Works provides capacity building workshops on workplace mental health to both employers and employees. Their approach is person centred, evidence based, and solutions focused. They meet the needs of workplaces for mental health training in three essential areas. Core Workshop (1 day)- provides participants an in depth understanding of mental health and mental illness. It is made up of four modules: Mental Health at Work, Mood and Depression, Stress and Anxiety, and Psychological Health and Safety. Focus (1/2 day); Essentials (1 hour)

Competency: Knowledge, Behavioural, Activating

Audience: Management and Staff

Cost: Not indicated

Developmental Pathways of Addiction and Mental Health

This AHS Mental Health and Addictions Learning Series offers a web-based interactive e-Learning curriculum designed to support healthcare providers to enhance their practice working with children, youth and their families experiencing addiction and mental health issues. The focus of these modules is to help health providers recognize and reduce significant stressors for vulnerable children and their parents, enhance their resilience, and increase their coping skills. In providing mental health support to children and youth the focus needs to shift toward health promotion and disease prevention, rather than just treating the impact of mental health disorders. (11 modules, 1.5-2 hours each)

Competency: Knowledge, Behavioural

Audience: Children / Youth

Cost: Free

CRI Trauma Informed Certification

Offered locally through ECDSS Community Resilience Initiative (CRI) course highlights CRI’s capacity-building framework for building resilience, that describes community’s learning and movement from theory to practice and how to implement evidence-based strategies into action. The training includes three groups of topics: the NEAR sciences, a cluster of emerging scientific findings in the fields of Neuroscience, Epigenetics, ACE Study, and Resilience; Brain States, the critical transition from Knowledge to Insight; and ROLES, CRI’s signature training on Recognize, Observe, Label, Elect and Solve, core strategies thattake us below the tip of the proverbial iceberg. (1 day)

Competency: Knowledge, Behavioural, Activating

Audience: All

Cost: TBA

Trauma Informed Care: Translating Trauma Informed Principles into Practice

This introductory training acknowledges the prevalence and significant impact of trauma in an individual’s life and aims to inform service providers how to apply a trauma-informed lens to their current practice. This workshop will define and describe the six main trauma-informed principles outlined in the literature and will focus on how to translate these principles into practice. (2 day)

Competency: Knowledge, Behavioural, Activating

Audience: All

Cost: $220

Question, Persuade, Refer Suicide Prevention Training (QPR)

Offered through the Question, Persuade, Refer Institute, this course teaches participants: How to Question, Persuade and Refer someone who may be suicidal; How to get help for yourself or learn more about preventing suicide; The common causes of suicidal behavior: The warning signs of suicide; How to get help for someone in crisis (1 hour)

Competency: Knowledge

Audience: All

Cost: $29 USD

Suicide Prevention, Risk Assessment and Management (SPRAM)

AHS Learning Series course introduces four (4) distinct character profiles, each depicting a pathway of care within a unique practice setting (i.e., mental health inpatient, corrections etc). Upon completion of the selected pathway, the learner will be provided with a Certificate of Participation (6 CME /CEU study credits). (7 modules)

Competency: Knowledge

Audience: All

Cost: Free

Suicide Intervention Training (Lethbridge Family Services)

The core of the training is the three-step RAP Model for intervention, which involves rapport building, assessing the individual, and planning for intervention. Focus on skills in active listening, conducting a standardized risk assessment, and developing safety plans with individuals at risk. Additional content on specific populations and community resources. (2-day)

Competency: Knowledge, Behavioural, Activating

Audience: ALL

Cost: Confirm cost with organization

Strategies for Living (Grande Prairie)

This is an interactive workshop offered by the Suicide Prevention Resource Centre in Grande Prairie, for people working with youth. This one-day workshop discusses biological risk factors, vulnerabilities, and understanding suicidal thoughts and behaviour in the adolescent population. (1-day)

Competency: Knowledge, Behavioural, Activating

Audience: Youth

Cost: $100

Walk With Me

Offered by the Centre for Suicide Prevention, this is intended for Indigenous caregivers working in Indigenous communities. This workshop draws heavily on Indigenous culture and tradition as it seeks to take participants through the cycle of suicide grief. Walk with Me takes the participants on a journey from the past, to the present and looks to the future; it creates a context for people to examine where they are in the grief cycle and how they can move forward to hope. (1-day)

Competency: Knowledge, Behavioural, Activating

Audience: Indigenous

Cost: $150

 

Little Cub

This Centre for Suicide Prevention workshop is a discussion-based workshop examining suicide prevention in Indigenous children and communities. The workshop draws heavily on storytelling and oral tradition. It begins by recognizing the unique precipitating factors of suicide in Indigenous communities and moves through to identifying risk and protective factors in children 12 years of age and younger. The workshop finishes by empowering participants with knowledge and tools to transfer the care of a child at risk of suicide to a community based resource person. ( 1 day)

It is recommended that participants of this workshop also attend the 2-day ASIST workshop for skills-based training.

Competency: Knowledge, Behavioural, Activating

Audience: Indigenous / Children

Cost: $150

 

Tattered Teddies

An interactive knowledge-based workshop which examines warning signs in a child and explores intervention strategies through stories and case studies. Intervention approaches build on the skills taught in the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) as they apply to children. (half day)

Competency: Knowledge, Behavioural, Activating

Audience: Children / Youth

Cost: $100

 

Suicide to Hope

This workshop is designed for clinicians and caregivers working with those recently at risk of and currently safe from suicide. It provides tools to help these caregivers and persons with experiences of suicide work together to develop achievable and significant recovery and growth goals. The focus of this workshop is recovery and growth for persons recently at risk of and currently safe from suicide, including people who experience recurring thoughts and feelings of suicide. This workshop is owned by LivingWorks Education and is delivered in Alberta by Centre for Suicide Prevention. (1 day)

Competency: Knowledge, Activating, Behavioural

Audience: All

Cost: $195

 

safeTALK

This workshop emphasizes the importance of recognizing the signs, communicating with the person at risk and getting help or resources for the person at risk. It uses the Tell Ask Listen and KeepSafe model. This workshop is owned by LivingWorks Education and is delivered in Alberta by Centre for Suicide Prevention. (half day)

Competency: Knowledge, Activating, Behavioural

Audience: All

Cost: $95

 

Question, Persuade, Refer Suicide Prevention Training (QPR)

Delivered provincially through Imagine Institute for Learning, this Gatekeeper course is a half-day course aimed at building confidence in how to question, persuade and refer someone who may be suicidal. Participants will learn the warning signs for suicide and increase their knowledge around suicide. They will also increase their confidence in engaging in active listening, asking clarifying questions and making appropriate referrals.

Competency: Knowledge, Behavioural, Activating

Audience: All

Cost: $45

 

ASIST Tune-Up Recertification

This refresher workshop is for people who hold a valid ASIST certificate. This workshop extends a person’s ASIST certification for a further two years and offers participants an opportunity to review the Pathway for Assisting Life Model, discuss successes and challenges in using the model, and clarify concepts covered within the model. This workshop is owned by LivingWorks Education and is delivered in Alberta by Centre for Suicide Prevention. (3.5 hours)

Competency: Knowledge, Behavioural, Activating

Audience: All

Cost: $100

 

Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST)

Offered through the Centre for Suicide Prevention two-day interactive workshop in suicide first aid. ASIST teaches participants to recognize when someone may have thoughts of suicide and work with them to create a plan that will support their immediate safety. Although ASIST is widely used by healthcare providers, participants don’t need any formal training to attend the workshop—anyone 18 or older can learn and use the ASIST model. (2 days)

Competency: Knowledge, Behavioural, Activating

Audience: All

Cost: $210

 

Healthy Minds Healthy Children

This AHS website contains current online and archived courses. Current issues in child and adolescent mental health intended for professionals in Alberta working with children and adolescents in the area of addiction and mental health.

Competency: Knowledge, Behavioural

Audience: Children, Youth

Cost: Free- Must register online

 

Developmental Pathways of Addiction and Mental Health

AHS Addiction and Mental Health Learning Series offers a web-based interactive e-Learning curriculum designed to support healthcare providers to enhance their practice working with children, youth and their families experiencing addiction and mental health issues. The focus of these modules is to help health providers recognize and reduce significant stressors for vulnerable children and their parents, enhance their resilience, and increase their coping skills. In providing mental health support to children and youth the focus needs to shift toward health promotion and disease prevention, rather than just  treating the impact of mental health disorders. (11 modules, 1.5-2 hours each)

Competency: Knowledge, Behavioural

Audience: General

Cost: Free

 

Gender Based Analysis Plus (GBA+)

A Status of Women Canada course to assess how diverse groups of women, men and non-binary people may experience policies, programs and initiatives. It acknowledges the need to go  beyond biological (sex) and socio-cultural (gender) differences and considers many other identity factors, like race, ethnicity, religion, age, and mental or physical ability. (2 hours)

Competency: Knowledge

Audience: All

Cost: Free

 

Circle of Courage

Starr Commonwealth offers this course which is a model of positive youth development based on the universal principle that to be emotionally healthy all youth need a sense of belonging, mastery, independence and generosity. This unique model integrates the cultural wisdom of tribal peoples, the practice wisdom of professional pioneers with troubled youth, and findings of modern youth development research. (6 hours)

Competency: Knowledge

Audience: Indigenous, Youth

Cost: Not specified

 

Make the Connection

This course offered by the Psychology Foundation of Canada is effective in promoting positive parent-to-infant attachment and is a strong candidate for public health initiatives targeting parenting skills. 3 courses target different age groups: 0-1, 1-2, 2-3. (Duration not specified)

Competency: Knowledge, Behavioural, Activating

Audience: Children

Cost: Not indicated

 

Kids Have Stress Too!

Offered provincially through Imagine Institute for Learning, this Psychology Foundation of Canada program is designed to help the important people in children’s’ lives learn to promote resiliency by buffering the impact of stress, and building positive coping strategies to deal with life’s stressors. Two programs span from pre-school to grade 3. (1 day)

Competency: Knowledge, Behavioural, Activating

Audience: Children

Cost: $110

Mental Health First Aid First Nations

The MHCC offers this course through CMHA and is intended for First Nations however, is also recommended for anyone that works with First Nations. It is designed to provide an opportunity for First Nations participants and others who work with First Nations to learn and have serious conversations about mental health and wellness. Participants will reflect on their life experiences, acknowledge the historical context of the colonization of Canada and move forward to address and explore ways to restore balance on a journey to mental health and wellness. (20 hours)

Competency: Knowledge, Behavioural, Activating

Audience: Indigenous

Cost: Not indicated

 

Mental Health First Aid

The MHCC offers this course through CMHA which focuses on the four most common mental health disorders including substance related, mood related, anxiety and trauma related, and psychotic disorders. Participants who take this course are well prepared to interact confidently about mental health with their family, friends, communities, and workplaces. (2 day)

Competency: Knowledge, Behavioural, Activating

Audience: General

Cost: Not indicated

 

Principles of Prevention Training

The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) introduces users to the fundamental aspects of violence and violence prevention. This valuable training explains the key concepts of primary prevention, the CDC’s role and public health approach, and the use of the social ecological model for violence prevention. (5 modules, 90 minutes total)

Competency: Knowledge

Audience: All

Cost: Free

 

Developmental Pathways of Addiction and Mental Health

This AHS Mental Health and Addictions Learning Series offers a web- based interactive e-Learning curriculum designed to support healthcare providers to enhance their practice working with children, youth and their families experiencing addiction and mental health issues. The focus of these modules is to help health providers recognize and reduce significant stressors for vulnerable children and their parents, enhance their resilience, and increase their coping skills. In providing mental health support to children and youth the focus needs to shift toward health promotion and disease prevention, rather than just treating the impact of mental health disorders. (11 modules, 1.5-2 hours each)

Competency: Knowledge, Behavioural

Audience: General

Cost: Free

 

Brain Story Certification

The Alberta Family Wellness Initiative’s new course has been streamlined and is more concise, but continues to provide a deeper understanding of brain development and its connection to addiction and mental health. The course now includes a new bibliography, a new glossary, an improved navigation system, updated videos and reflective questions in each module. (20 hours in total)

Competency: Knowledge, Behavioural

Audience: All

Cost: Free

 

Circle of Security-Core Sensitivities

Circle of Security International offers this seminar which focuses on the correlation between core sensitivities and insecurity as described within attachment research; the intergenerational nature of each core sensitivity and how sub-sets of insecurity can be transmitted between parent and child; issues of vigilance within each core sensitivity regarding: autonomy, vulnerability, and/or intrusion Implications for treatment of parent/child dyads, teens, and adults; and the implications for all interpersonal relationships. (3 days)

Competency: Knowledge, Behavioural, Activating

Audience: General

Cost: Not indicated

 

N.E.A.R Sciences: Understanding the relationship between Neuroscience, Epigenetics, Adverse Childhood Experiences and Resilience.

Imagine Institute for Learning offers a full-day learning immersion which will introduce participants to the neuroscience and epigenetics of brain development, the impacts of ACEs on brain architecture and human development as well as the hope of resilience. (1-day)

Competency: Knowledge, Behavioural, Activating

Audience: All

Cost: $110

 

Prescription Drug Training for Youth and Adults

The Spirit of Healing offers 2 courses. The course for youth focuses on safe and unsafe use of prescription and over-the-counter medication and encourages using traditional and alternative ways to stay safe, healthy and balanced in all areas – mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

The adult course provides information on prescription drug use and misuse and includes traditional and complementary approaches for healing pain as well as ways to reduce harm to the individual, family and community. (15 hours each course)

Competency: Knowledge, Behavioural

Audience: Indigenous / Youth / Adult

Cost: Free after creating an account

 

PACES Provincial Addiction Curricula and Experiential Skills Training/Alberta Opioid Dependency Treatment Virtual Training

The focus of the Alberta ODT Virtual Training Program through AHS is to provide healthcare providers with the necessary knowledge, skills, and attitudes when providing care to patients with opioid use disorder (OUD). (7 modules, 25-35 minutes each)

Competency: Knowledge, Behavioural

Audience: General

Cost: Free

 

Harm Reduction Approach Overview

The State of New York Department of Health offers an introduction to basic philosophy and practices of HIV/STI/HCV harm reduction with regards to substance use and sexual risk behavior. The webinar provides an opportunity to reflect on your values and attitudes regarding harm reduction, as well as learn specific harm reduction strategies. (2 hours)

Competency: Knowledge

Audience: General

Cost: Not indicated

 

Developmental Pathways of Addiction and Mental Health

This AHS Mental Health and Addictions Learning Series offers a web- based interactive e-Learning curriculum designed to support healthcare providers to enhance their practice working with children, youth and their families experiencing addiction and mental health issues. The focus of these modules is to help health providers recognize and reduce significant stressors for vulnerable children and their parents, enhance their resilience, and increase their coping skills. In providing mental health support to children and youth the focus needs to shift toward health promotion and disease prevention, rather than just treating the impact of mental health disorders. (11 modules, 1.5-2 hours each)

Competency: Knowledge, Behavioural

Audience: General

Cost: Free

 

The Brain Story Certification

The Alberta Family Wellness Initiative’s new course has been streamlined and is more concise, but continues to provide a deeper understanding of brain development and its connection to addiction and mental health. The course now includes a new bibliography, a new glossary, an improved navigation system, updated videos and reflective questions in
each module. (20 hours in total)

Competency: Knowledge, Behavioural

Audience: General

Cost: Free

 

Elements and Priorities for Working Toward a Psychologically Safer Workplace

This report was prepared to support organizational readiness to embrace the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (the Standard). It includes the 5 elements of a standard management approach, to creating and sustaining an organizational plan of mental health and wellness. Offered through WSMH.

 

Trauma-Informed: A Trauma Toolkit

This toolkit from Klinic Community Health Centre aims to  provide knowledge to service providers working with adults who have experienced or been affected by trauma. It will also help service providers and organizations to work from a trauma-informed perspective and develop trauma-informed relationships that cultivate safety, trust and compassion.

 

Safe Messaging about Suicide, Mental Illness and Mental Health

The Mental Health Commission of Canada offers this 1-hour webinar to help people learn how to safely talk about suicide and mental health. Information will be provided to help participants gain the confidence necessary to learn from people with lived experience and engage in safe and meaningful conversation about suicide and mental health. (1 hour)

 

Zero Suicide Toolkit

This toolkit is a comprehensive program of strategies, tools and readings to assist behavioral health providers in achieving safe suicide care. Addresses the following core components: Lead, Train Identify, Engage, Treat, Transition, Improve. This is offered by the Suicide Prevention Resource Centre and the National Alliance for Suicide Prevention.

 

Creating a Compassionate Classroom

The Alberta Teachers’ Association offers this booklet to help educate all of us about mental health, mental illness, and how we can help our students, our colleagues and ourselves. This booklet encourages the development of more compassionate classrooms, schools and communities by changing how we look at mental health and mental illness, school culture, education, policy and partnerships on the large scale, but also the small.

 

HEADSTRONG

HEADSTRONG is an evidence-based anti-stigma initiative created by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC). It inspires youth ages 12-18 to Be Brave, Reach Out and Speak Up about mental health. Now a national initiative, HEADSTRONG teaches students how to reduce stigma and become mental health champions in their schools. CMHA Edmonton has a partnership with MHCC and coordinates and delivers Headstrong Youth Summits across Alberta.

 

Alberta Addictions Service Providers

Website contains links to numerous in-person events, online courses and archived webinars on various mental health and addictions topics.

Visit Website

Need Help for Mental Health? Tool

The Need Help for Mental Health? Tool is a mental health navigation tool. There is a pre-made tool specific to Edmonton, but a customizable version of the Tool is also available for communities to edit based on the population they work with. This tool is a basic overview of the mental health services that are available. It can be used by anyone to help themselves or others connect to mental health and social services in their community by reading through the questions and seeing which services meet their needs.

The Need Help for Mental Health? Tool is available in several different languages:

2021-07-26T22:03:53+00:00Mental Health|

Trauma-Informed Care: Training that can Benefit Anyone

The Community Mental Health Action Plan partners with many organizations that play a significant role in improving addiction and mental health supports and services in Edmonton and surrounding areas. One of our valued partners is the Imagine Institute For Learning, a provincial organization dedicated to the advancement of best practices, research-based professional learning, and community engagement for everyone who works with children and families. Imagine offers a variety of training courses for mental health and suicide prevention, one of which is Trauma-Informed Care.

70% of people have experienced at least one traumatic event in their life.1

Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) training takes an in-depth look at what trauma is, the biological response to trauma, and behaviours that it may cause. It teaches people how to apply this knowledge to their work and personal life. Although this training is often taken by service providers in the social and mental health fields, it is a course that can be beneficial for anyone. There is a high likelihood that any person you interact with is coping with one or more traumas1. Most people do not develop a disorder from a traumatic event; however, it can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in some cases. Research shows that creating awareness and recognition in the community can go a long way to preventing difficulties for those coping with trauma.

“It is not what’s wrong with them. It’s what happened to them.”

Through understanding trauma, we can approach others with more empathy, and perhaps too, be kinder to ourselves as we may also be coping with trauma. TIC training has already been expanding beyond the service provider sector to areas such as education. Imagine Institute recently held a training session for teachers in the Red Deer area that demonstrated the need for this training.

“I believe every person involved in a child’s development (from parents to bus drivers to school staff) should have some level of training in Trauma Informed Care. It has been very informative and provides tools that can be employed starting today.” – Testimonial from a teacher in the Red Deer Trauma-Informed Care Training session

You can find upcoming courses for Trauma-Informed Care or other free training sessions on the Imagine Institute For Learning website. AHS also has online Trauma-Informed Care modules available that are valuable for learning about trauma for those who are unable to make the in-person (currently virtual) TIC training. If you want to find more opportunities to learn about TIC and other mental health training, check out the Mental Health Training Framework.

Please note:  Course content has sensitive topics that may be triggering for some people.

References:

1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6603306/

2021-09-22T17:04:29+00:00Blog, Featured Content|

How 211 Alberta Can Help During a Pandemic

How 211 Alberta Can Help During a Pandemic

During a pandemic or disaster, things change quickly. Government supports and social services might be closed, have limited hours, or have significant phone wait times. New community resources might pop up as people try their best to respond to community needs.

Information and referral services such as 211 Alberta are essential in reducing the strain on emergency services, government departments and support service agencies during disaster situations by handling non-emergency calls.

211 is an essential service that helps Albertans find the right resource or service for whatever issue they need help with, at the right time.

How 211 Alberta can help you during the COVID-19 pandemic

As a government or social services agency

  • 211 acts as a communication hub. One phone call, text conversation or online chat is all that is needed to get people to the right place, limiting the number of instances of misinformation and misdirection for those seeking support. 211 also prevents a large number of confusing help lines from being developed.
  • 211 hosts a comprehensive database of resources and services. The need for this information during a disaster when available resources can change on a daily, or even hourly basis. New resources surface while others may become unavailable. 211 Information and Referral Specialist can also use this data to identify unmet needs and monitor the allocation of available resources. For the most up-to-date information 211 has, here’s 211’s COVID-19 Resource List.
  • 211 can expand the capacity of first responders by diverting calls from emergency responders during a disaster.
  • 211’s data has the potential to play a key role in identifying trends of previous disaster response to help in shaping the response of future disasters. To subscribe to 211’s Weekly Covid-19 Report, click here.
    211 can help build up sector capacity and build connections by linking community organizations together prior to disaster striking.

As someone who needs help:

  • 211’s infrastructure and network allows for the system to have extended capacity and reach during a disaster. Since the comprehensive database is online, it can be accessed from many regions, and makes resources accessible beyond the communities from which they originate.
  • 211 Information and Referral Specialists can provide support to callers post-disaster, connect them with services and meet new needs that may have surfaced because of the disaster.
  • 211 Information and Referral Specialists are highly skilled in crisis intervention.
  • To reach 211, dial 2-1-1, text INFO to 211 or visit www.ab.211.ca and click “live chat.”

As someone who wants to help:

One of the largest gaps that arises during a disaster is coordinating the influx of donation and volunteer offers of support that come in. In many cases, agencies do not have the capacity to respond, and helpers can feel discouraged when their offers are not taken up. 211 can coordinate these offers of help and support by directing people to available opportunities to be of service. In partnership with VolunteerConnector, 211 can refer people to available volunteer opportunities and coach them on how to use the VolunteerConnector website at https://www.volunteerconnector.org/.

To help keep 211 up-to-date, visit the 211 Alberta website to check information about your organization’s
programs and services. If you have any updates, email database@ab.211.ca

211 is here to help individuals looking for support and frontline staff looking for information about changing
resources during a pandemic. It is a part of our community of supports that can help direct you to the right
place.

Learn more: https://www.ab.211.ca/

2021-09-22T17:05:56+00:00Blog, Featured Content|

About the Action Plan in 6 Images

About the Action Plan in 6 Images

1. Easier Access to Services for Individuals and Families Struggling with Mental Health, Mental Illness, and Addiction

The purpose of the Community Mental Health Action Plan is to ensure that everyone involved in mental health and addiction in Alberta has the opportunity to maximize collective resources, leverage opportunities to respond to existing gaps, foster innovative approaches and identify a continuum of integrated supports and services. This will translate into easier access to services for individuals and families struggling with poor mental health, mental illness, and addiction.

2. A Focus on Prevention and Promotion

70% of adult Canadians living with a mental health problem or illness say their symptoms started in childhood.

Once mental illness is recognized, help makes a difference for 80% of the people who are affected

The Community Mental Health Action Plan works within this reality. We know there is much we can do at the community level to work together effectively and provide enhanced services for individuals and their families, focusing on:

  • The promotion of positive mental health
  • Prevention of mental illness through early identification and intervention

3. Strengthening the Capacity of Professionals and Non-traditional Supports

The Community Mental Health Action Plan builds the capacity of organizations and non-traditional allies to make practice shifts that can better support positive mental health of others. 

This capacity building work has brought together diverse government, community, and business stakeholders across sectors. As a result, organizations from different sectors can better integrate their work with each other.

An example of this is the Mental Health Training Framework. It is a guide that helps professionals identify training and resources to support the development of knowledge, behavioural, and activating competencies. The Training Framework leverages existing provincial investments made in training and professional development. 

4. Honouring and Learning from Lived / Living Experience

We regularly engage with individuals and families who have previous, current, or ongoing experience with the mental health system to ensure they are partners in creating practice shifts that will ultimately benefit them. We have done this through large group community meetings, focus groups, one-on-one consultations and outreach, and invitations to our Living Library Task Group. 

Their expertise and perspectives are highlighted in the Living Library, Shared Wisdom stories, and Navigation Findings

5. Supporting Albertans through COVID-19

The Community Mental Health Action Plan is collaborating with provincial organizations to develop a plan to ensure frontline supports are informed about, and have access to, psychosocial supports. 

Mental health is an issue that concerns all of us and it is not a concern specific to COVID-19.  However, during this time, mental health issues can be exacerbated by the stress of not working, conflicting information about how to navigate social distancing, parenting while working from home, and other situations. 

In order to help our community, we are highlighting COVID-19 resources for individuals, staff, and organizations on our home page. Each of the resources has been reviewed by our team to Our goal is not to have a comprehensive list of resources available (that would be overwhelming) but to provide a starting point for support. 

See 211 Alberta and our blog post for information about how 211 can help you during the pandemic. 211 is an essential service and can support government and social service agencies, along with people who need help or want to help. 

6. Many Ways to Use Our Website!

The website has six topic areas that you can find tools and resources under such as these:

  • A Mental Health Training Framework to create a training plan for your organization in the areas of trauma, mental health, suicide, workplace wellness, addictions, and brain development
  • The Need Help for Mental Health Tool, a mental health resource listing that comes in 8 languages. You can use the Edmonton version or customize your own! 
  • Compassion to Action, an innovative training for security guards about supporting vulnerable populations. 
  • Stories about extending mental health and addictions support in non-traditional settings and the Shared Wisdom Resource Guide on how to implement changes for the well-being of your staff and clients.  
  • 211 Alberta which is a 24/7 service available across the province, by phone, text, chat which conducts needs and risk assessments before connecting inquirers with the appropriate support. 
  • And more! 

Sign up to our newsletter to get updates on new content added to the website.  

2021-09-22T17:14:11+00:00Blog, Featured Content, Mental Health|

Mental Health Training Framework

The Mental Health Training Framework provides people with a starting point to find trainings about mental health to develop knowledge competencies in 6 different areas. There is a matrix that accompanies the framework that provides information on the format of the training, the level of impact on changing behaviours, and who the training is best taken by.

Organizations can customize it to their needs and create an internal training matrix for their teams or organizations. A knowledgeable workforce will help address the full spectrum of mental health and wellness for all Albertans.

2021-08-04T14:31:41+00:00Uncategorized|
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