Mental Health Training Brings Health and Justice Professionals Together for Better Response

Corinne Sampson is a member of Nova Scotia Health Authority’s Crisis & Emergency Response Team with Mental Health & Addictions – her focus is working with members of the care team to improve the health system’s response to people and families living with mental illness who may experience a mental health crisis in Pictou County.

Seven years ago, Sampson had the opportunity to take a ‘Train the Trainer’ course for the Hyde Program, an advanced mental health response program. It was developed following the Hyde Commission, which looked into the 2007 death of Howard Hyde, a Nova Scotian who lived with mental illness and died following an altercation with guards in a Nova Scotia correctional facility. The commission made 80 recommendations calling for improvements in how the justice and health systems treat people with mental illness.

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One requirement of the course was the commitment to provide the training free of charge to others. In addition, the training sessions have to be co-lead by a health and a police or justice professional. Sampson delivers the training most frequently with NSHA psychiatrist Dr. Theresa Vienneau and Constable Kelly Reid of the New Glasgow Police Department, but there are several other partners, trained and ready to share their knowledge.  Shellie Smith with Probation, Stephen Fraser with DNR, Howie Dunbar, Westville Police, and Angela McKay, RCMP, have all worked with Corinne as co-leads. Together they’ve now trained over 500 people in Pictou County.

Though the training is provided free, the Aberdeen Health Foundation supports the program by covering any incidental costs.

One of the benefits of the training is the mix of participants and their opportunity to hear about each other’s experiences. First responders, police, dispatch workers, probation and parole officers, social workers, psychologists, doctors, and nurses are all included. In the early days, the focus was on emergency department staff, but the training has been opened up to include doctors and nurses from all departments, ward clerks, continuing care assistants, security guards, and students.

Bringing different professionals with different experiences together leads to opportunities; tensions may surface, but ultimately, it helps improve understanding of the different roles in providing excellent, safe and effective care.

Sampson has witnessed how this training opens up a new level of dialogue and respect between agencies. “I see such benefit when I go back to my work and see my colleagues and other partners working through what they’ve learned. There is much more dialogue now between professionals and between agencies. People are taking the initiative to share information with one another. The result is better intervention and better care.”

The training extends beyond the factual aspects of mental illness and brings forward the personal biases that may exist, recognizing that reducing stigma is critical to effective crisis response. Participants learn how to identify and distinguish various conditions and practice a variety of interventions for mental health crises, intoxication and addiction.

The result is an interdisciplinary, coordinated approach among first responders, health, and justice. “We are building trust across the agencies. It’s much more of a team response now,” says Sampson.

“The Aberdeen Health Foundation is partnering to enhance mental health services and supports in Pictou County,” says Executive Director, Susan Malcolm. “We are very pleased to help ensure our community is served by health care, first responder and justice professionals all trained in the latest and best techniques for mental health care.”

The Aberdeen Health Foundation is marking 30 years and more than $20 million in advanced equipment and patient care for Pictou County. For those wanting to make a direct impact on mental health treatment and support in Pictou County, a donation to the Foundation’s Sandbar Endowment is the perfect choice.

 

How the Hyde Training is Impacting Staff

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“The Hyde Training has been immensely helpful to me in my work. Here in the Emergency Department, each patient often has quite different needs.

I feel that I’m much more equipped to make important decisions, such as determining if an immediate response is required, or if this person a danger to themselves or others. The training is always running through my mind. My reactions are different now. The Hyde training helped me improve my assessments of mental health patients and to gain a professional, confident approach when responding.

– Karen Smith, LPN

Though the training is provided free, the Aberdeen Health Foundation is pleased to support the program by covering any incidental costs.

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“The Hyde Training impacted me quite a bit. Even from the way we communicate amongst staff – the terms and vocabulary we use. There is a lot of complexity with mental health and it is an ever-changing field. In general, it’s made me more aware of what the individual is going through. I’m better equipped to understand where they’re coming from, what they’re experiencing, and their fears. I feel I can communicate with my mental health patients much better.”

– Caitlin Hopper, LPN

Though the training is provided free, the Aberdeen Health Foundation is pleased to support the program by covering any incidental costs.

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“Working in security at the Aberdeen Hospital, we come face-to-face with people that are experiencing mental illness, almost on a daily basis. The Hyde Training really puts you in their shoes and gives you a more thorough understanding of what exactly they may be experiencing. I most definitely have a new found respect for those with mental illness. There have been situations in which we’ve been called in and we’ve been able to help de-escalate a situation. We have used the training to adjust our response. The Hyde Training has made it much easier for us to do our jobs.”

– Anthony Smith, Paladin Security, Pictured with team members and fellow trainees, George MacKenzie and Cynthia Swan-MacDonald

Though the training is provided free, the Aberdeen Health Foundation is pleased to support the program by covering any incidental costs.

Mental Health First Aid Training provided through the Dr. Johnnie Miles Williston Education Fund

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“There is an increased prevalence of symptoms of depression and anxiety in people who experience chronic pain. As the Chronic Pain Services Coordinator here in Pictou County and at sites in Truro, Antigonish and Amherst, I was able to take a Mental Health First Aid training course thanks to funding from the Aberdeen Health Foundation’s Dr. Johnnie Miles Williston Education Fund.

I was trained as a physiotherapist with specific specialized skills. People who access our services are likely to have multi-factorial concerns that thread together many issues. Having an awareness of mental health is a key aspect of providing care and having basic skills to recognize and respond to mental illness makes you better at your job regardless of your profession.

This course has been a great opportunity to review the different mental illnesses and how to deal more confidently and safely with difficult situations. It is a great entry point for anyone wanting to raise their awareness and improve their knowledge in this area. The training will be constantly used in my day to day life, both at work and at home.”

– Tanya MacDonald, Physiotherapist

 

Posted: October 3, 2016