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Mental Health Service Utilization among Students and Staff in 18 Months Following Dawson College Shooting

1 Department of Psychology, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, 3351, boul. des Forges, C.P. 500, Trois-Rivières, QC G9A 5H7;
2 Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal, 7401, rue Hochelaga, Montréal, QC H1N 3M5;
3 Department of Psychiatry, Université de Montréal, C.P. 6128, succursale Centre-ville, Montréal, QC H3T 1J4;
4 Trauma Studies Centre, Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal, 7401, rue Hochelaga, Montréal, QC H1N 3M5;
5 Department of Psychiatry, Royal Victoria Hospital, McGill University Health Centre, 687 Pine Avenue West, Montreal, QC H3A 1A1;
6 Department of Psychology, Université du Québec en Outaouais, Case postale 1250, succursale Hull, Gatineau, QC J8X 3X7

Objectives The aim of this study was to investigate service utilization by students and staff in the 18 months following the September 13, 2006, shooting at Dawson College, Montreal, as well as the determinants of this utilization within the context of Canada's publicly managed healthcare system. Methods A sample of 948 from among the college's 10,091 students and staff agreed to complete an adapted computer or web-based standardized questionnaire drawn from the Statistics Canada 2002 Canadian Community Health Survey cycle 1.2 on mental health and well-being. Results In the 18 months following the shooting, there was a greater incidence and prevalence not only of PTSD, but also of other anxiety disorders, depression, and substance abuse. Staff and students were as likely to consult a health professional when presenting a mental or substance use disorder, with females more likely to do so than males. Results also indicated that there was relatively high internet use for mental health reasons by students and staff (14% overall). Conclusions Following a major crisis event causing potential mass trauma, even in a society characterized by easy access to public, school and health services and when the population involved is generally well educated, the acceptability of consulting health professionals for mental health or substance use problems represents a barrier. However, safe internet access is one way male and female students and staff can access information and support and it may be useful to further exploit the possibilities afforded by web-based interviews in anonymous environments.
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