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Suicide prevention program extended to area universities through local LHIN

by Patrick Raftis

WATERLOO REGION - A new suicide prevention program intended for university and college students in Waterloo Wellington was announced Dec. 19.

The provincial government is providing funding within the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network (WWLHIN) for communitybased care to expand health care services and mental health supports for vulnerable residents.

Using part of that funding, the WWLHIN will extend a successful pilot that launched this fall, with a $50,000 investment to fund two 10-week suicide intervention groups per year that will be held at area post secondary institutions (Wilfrid Laurier, University of Waterloo and Conestoga College), followed by peer-led suicide prevention support for as long as the individual needs that support. This is an extension of an existing program, Skills for Safer Living, that LHIN officials say has been successful in the community, with a new focus on the student population. The student outreach component is expected to help close a current gap in the system, assisting some of the most vulnerable and atneed individuals and preventing them from slipping through the cracks.

Suzanne Baal, senior public and corporate relations officer for the WWLHIN said the program can be accessed by students or the general public hrough the website of the Self Help Alliance, which has offices in Guelph, Kitchener and Cambridge. The establishment of an on-campus program recognizes the high rate of students who have considered or attempted suicide, she said.

“It’s quite high in that particular demographic. The intention of putting it on campus is to make it easier for students to get there - so they may also get referred through the health services building or the onsite mental health resources (at universities),” said Baal in an interview with the Advertiser.

“This important investment addressed a serious need in our community, and draws on the already-successful Skills for Safer Living communitybased program. This $50,000 in funding for the Canadian Mental Health Association of Waterloo Wellington Dufferin and their partnership with local universities and colleges makes it easier for students at risk to access the care and support they need,” said John Milloy, MPP for Kitchener Centre, in a press release announcing the program.

Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care stated, “Providing residents with more timely access to health care in their homes and communities ensures our health care system works better for everyone, improving access for all who need care, where they need it.”

“The Skills for Safer Living program is one we’re particularly proud of in Waterloo Wellington,” said WWLHIN chair Joan Fisk. “Making this program more accessible for local students will help them get the care they need more easily and builds on the current success of the program.”

For more information go to http://self-help-alliance.ca.

January 3, 2014

 
 

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