SCOPE Synopsis, March 2012 #3

Stress and violence in the workplace and on campus: A growing problem for business, industry and academia

In this time of ever-increasing stress, how do we reduce it, manage it and prevent workplace and school violence? One way is to recognize the inherent cost-prohibitive nature of stress. Another is to assess your environment’s risk for stress and any potentiality of violence. Proactive measures, such as counseling and stress management training, can release some pressure. We can also work to prepare our students for the workplace stressors they will be likely to encounter. Policies and practices can clarify how to handle an individual who makes threats or demonstrates potential for violence. These measures must be communicated clearly and widely. National agencies list strategies for reducing the risk of violence in the workplace. Hiring practices can include background checks and the signing of an agreement demonstrating understanding of zero-tolerance policies. Continuing education on violence can regularly raise awareness of the issue.

A Guide to Campus Mental Health Action Planning

Several principles for designing effective campus mental health promotion and suicide prevention efforts are listed: prevention-focused, comprehensive, planned and evaluated, strategic and targeted, multicomponent, coordinated and synergistic, multisectoral and collaborative, and supported. In regard to building momentum and infrastructure, the following steps are outlined: obtain senior administrator support, engage key stakeholders in a mental health and suicide prevention task force, task force membership, mandate and timeline, communication, and build capacity. Steps for strategic planning are included. Strategies for promoting mental health and preventing suicide are: promote social networks, help students develop life skills, identify students at risk, increase student help-seeking, restrict student access to potentially lethal means of self-harm and suicide, increase access to effective services, and develop and follow crisis management procedures.

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