Mandatory health training for students’ association staff

By: Charles Fernandes

With students and staff back on campus this year for in-person learning, Red River College Polytechnic has focused on informing students about its mental health resources by providing mental health training to students’ association staff members.

“Red River College is providing more awareness, interacting with more students and student association mandatory mental health training,” said Manpreet Kaur, president of Red River College Students’ Association (RRCSA). “With this training, we can talk to you, ask questions, and try to convince you to go to the mental health supports and go to the right place,” she said.

Kaur said this training is important because it gives RRCSA staff the ability to reach out to more students and get them the resources they need. She said she has more confidence in helping and understanding student needs effectively. 

An RRC Polytech student talks to a support advisor about mental health services at the Exchange District campus on Oct. 31, 2022. The Roblin Centre (P210) is open to all students, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Charles Fernandes)

“Mental health impacts basically every part of my life. Going through dips in mental health in school is very common for me,” said Paulina Occhino, a graphic design student at RRC Polytech.

Occhino said even though staff are becoming more educated and trained for mental health assistance, there is still a communication gap with students.

“We’ve been told about the different supports we have through emails. One thing that I think should be outlined more is that they are free and counselling services can be more than just for school,” Occhino said. 

She also made suggestions for how RRC Polytech could bring more awareness and mental health accessibility for students by adding features to its online learning management system, LEARN. 

“It could be better informed for students, especially new students starting. Not just being given a pamphlet, but maybe an alert on LEARN,” said Occhino. 

As RRC Polytech trains more staff and executives on mental health support, the college is proposing a mental health resource centre as the main hub for anything related to mental health support, Kaur added.

“That is what they are planning right now. It is not done yet. It is still in discussion,” Kaur said. 

While a new mental health centre is in discussion, mental health services are currently available at the Notre Dame and Exchange District Campuses.

Counselling services can be delivered in-person or online, according to the RRC Polytech website.