A CMHA WW IMPACT worker will be stationed on campus to help those who may need support afterhours during a mental health crisis
The Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington and the University of Waterloo are partnering to provide an IMPACT (Integrated Mobile Police and Crisis Team) worker on campus for afterhours mental health support for students. The IMPACT workers are specially trained mental health clinicians who have expertise in suicide prevention – safety planning, mental health assessments and de-escalation techniques. Distress calls from anywhere on campus will be taken by the Special Constable Services dispatcher, who will notify both their special constables and the IMPACT worker, who will respond together.
Since 2015, CMHA WW has been working with local police in Waterloo Wellington to provide supportive mental health crisis care to those in need in the community through the IMPACT program. The partnership is very successful and results in hospital diversion and better health outcomes for individuals. CMHA WW IMPACT workers piloted a program with the University of Guelph in October and are now expanded to the University of Waterloo. This new partnership with the University of Waterloo is coming at a crucial time.
The need for mental health supports in the community has grown since the onset of the pandemic. In 2020 there was a 40% increase in IMPACT responses to 911 calls with police.
The IMPACT Service model is a proven success. Although it has been adapted provincially, CMHA WW is the first to expand the model to post-secondary institutions, and we are already seeing success at the University of Guelph. For example, in less than six months, there has been more than one hundred student interactions in which mental health support has been provided.
“This is a great news story, and it could not come at a better time. We continue to wrestle with an evolving pandemic in a world of uncertainty. We are seeing an increase in mental health needs across the board and students are no exception. This partnership with the University of Waterloo will help further support the mental health of students outside of regular business hours.” says Director of Service at CMHA WW Jeff Stanlick.
A worker from the IMPACT team will be on campus Thursdays, 3 p.m. to midnight, and Friday through Sunday, 2 p.m. to midnight. Wellness staff concerned for a student’s wellbeing during the week can highlight their concerns with the IMPACT worker before the weekend to ensure students’ continuity of support over the weekend.
“The University of Waterloo is always looking for ways to offer even more support to our students. Therefore, we are very excited about this partnership,” said Cheri Bilitz, Waterloo’s director of counselling services. “This collaborative connection between IMPACT and the University’s Campus Wellness Services will see our students receive increased mental health support after-hours and on weekends.”
All partners within this initiative are committed to and obligated to ensure all student privacy rights are in compliance with all applicable Ontario Privacy Legislation.