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Notice, Engage, Refer + Debrief

Responding to mental health distress

Notice, Engage, Refer + Debrief (NER+D) is a training program designed to help TMU community members respond to mental health related distress. Developed by experts in psychology, adult learning and public health, has been updated and adapted to support our TMU community during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This video is a shortened overview of material that is covered in a two hour, co-facilitated virtual session.  More information about upcoming NER+D sessions can be found by visiting the Learning Events Calendar, and searching ‘Notice, Engage, Refer + Debrief’.

Questions for you and your team

The questions below are designed to help you and/or your team explore and discuss the concepts covered in the ‘Notice, Engage, Refer + Debrief:  Supporting TMU’s Culture of Caring during COVID’ video. These questions can be used as a starting point for a dialogue about responding to mental health distress for yourself and/or your team. 

Two students wearing masks sit on the grass in front of Pitman Hall working on laptops
  • What are some examples of how you can tell if people are distressed or something is wrong? 
  • What does ‘impacting day to day activities’ mean to you - what may it look like?  
  • Are there any particular signs of distress you have noticed in your interactions to date since COVID began?
Two men sitting at a table talking

Think of a time when you have spent time with a good listener

  • What made this person a good listener, what kinds of things would they say/do?
  • What types of things could this person have done that would have shut down a conversation? 

This can guide you in how you may choose to respond to someone with mental health distress.


You’ve taken notice of the comments being made by a student during the zoom chat in class.  Although they are an active participant, you’ve noticed numerous along the lines of ‘this is going to be impossible’, ‘why are we even bothering to learn right now?', and ‘ughhhh, this sucks! I will never be able to focus on this’  

  • What have you noticed?
  • How might you handle this situation?
Two people riding bikes holding hands
  • What are some of the reasons that referring a person to support resources is helpful?
  • How might you go about referring a person to support resources?
3 diverse students posing for a picture in Ryerson's Student Learning Centre

If applicable, reflect on a situation in which you responded to someone in mental health distress. Ask the following questions:

  • What went well? 
  • What did not go so well? 
  • What was learned? 
  • What would I do differently?


Self-care is very important to a responder’s wellbeing. These are some questions you can ask yourself to understand how to best replenish yourself:

  • How do you disengage after a difficult day/situation?
  • What are your go to self-care strategies?
  • Who do you go to for support when you need to talk?

Once you have watched the above 'Notice, Engage, Refer + Debrief:  Supporting TMU’s Culture of Caring during COVID’ video, please take a moment to complete the below feedback form. This helps us understand what the community is looking for at this time when it comes to responding to mental health distress.