Six smiling people stand in a row and one of them is holding a plaque.

Humber is one of the first post-secondary institutions to offer mental health resilience training for its professors and students in the Funeral Director Class 1 and Class 2 (Non-Embalming) programs.

The Faculty of Health Sciences & Wellness was able to provide students and instructors in the program with a unique training opportunity aimed at building resilience and providing them with tools to avoid burnout and to cope with various psychological injuries such as compassion fatigue. The hope is that the training, which was provided in conjunction with TEND Academy, will address the high turnover rate among front-line professionals within the bereavement sector.

By providing students and instructors with health and wellness strategies, Humber is ensuring that the next generation of professionals who provide funeral services to Canadians are prepared to face industry challenges and have access to important coping skills they can incorporate into their own lives and use throughout their career. The hope is for greater resilience for those in the profession, which will result in less time off work and lower turnover in the sector.

Humber’s Funeral Service Education team took part in the Train the Trainer course led by TEND Academy executive director François Mathieu. The training equipped the team with the skills, knowledge, and resources needed to create resilience training seminars for students and helped them develop an evolved strategy for the delivery of resilience education and awareness.

“The ability to participate in TEND Academy’s Train the Trainer program resulted in the knowledge and skills necessary to build a program for resilience skill building and offered us insight into a better pathway forward for novice workers,” said Michelle Clarke, program coordinator, Funeral Director Class 1 and Class 2. “If we hadn’t attended the Train the Trainer program, I’m not convinced we would have come to this conclusion this quickly and would have, therefore, missed out on an incredible opportunity to better prepare our novice workers.”

While the creation of a standalone resilience skill-building workshop remains a priority for the faculty, the insights gained through the Train the Trainer sessions helped the team recognize that students would also benefit greatly from having resilience skill-building and awareness embedded throughout the Funeral Service Education program curriculum. This will allow the faculty team to better address how each aspect of a funeral director’s role can impact their psychological well-being — an approach that will better prepare new generations of bereavement professionals to manage it.

The team is now planning to develop a standalone program for resilience skill-building and awareness and a strategy for embedding resilience training across the curriculum.

“Many of the attendees and the trainers themselves come from a counselling background and their perspectives, insights and qualifications were different from mine. Due to my lived experience, I tend to see things through the lens of the bereavement and education sectors. This interprofessional collaboration of knowledge and engagement in conversations about resiliency were vitally important in helping to further my development and understanding of this topic,” said Lindsay Foley, professor, Faculty of Health Sciences & Wellness.

Humber recently welcomed Jedd Lapid, executive director, Funeral Service Foundation, from Wisconsin, USA to see the impact the Foundation's support is having on Humber students first-hand. The FSF was presented with the Medal of Gratitude for being a steadfast supporter of Humber since 2021 where they helped create the resilience training program for Humber's Funeral Director programs.

The resilience training is equipping Humber students and instructors with valuable skills that go beyond the classroom and can be employed both in their careers and day-to-day lives.