Beginning this fall, NAIT has introduced a new element to its trades programs. It’s a mental health seminar to help students in the trades feel more comfortable about talking about mental health issues.
The mandatory seminar, Tough Enough to Talk About It, is taken by all students enrolled in second year apprenticeships and full-time programs. The seminar lasts about an hour and is held within the first few weeks of classes.
NAIT offers many other mental health resources for students, including the myWellness program, Wellness Wednesdays and Mental Health First Aid Training, but this is the first time a program like this has been incorporated into mandatory classes.
Tough Enough to Talk About It was originally started by the Suicide Prevention Resource Centre in Grande Prairie. After its success there, NAIT Associate Dean Administration, Don Boomer, wanted to incorporate it into student curriculum in order to help get students talking about what might be troubling them before these issues escalate.
“There’s a number of groups that there’s concern over. The third most common group is farmers, the second most common group is students and the most common group is people in trades and industry. We have trades students here (at NAIT), that’s the two most common groups.”
NAIT plumbing student, Jeff McCormack, says that he found the seminar helpful in learning to recognize when others might be dealing with mental health issues that they might be trying to cover up.
“You don’t want to seem weak, you don’t want to seem less than, so a lot of the time in the trades people will hide how they truly feel,” said McCormack.
Currently, there are 30 volunteer staff members at NAIT trained to instruct the course, with more training sessions to come.