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Health & Wellness Services Division of Student Affairs

Student story: Advocating for mental health

Student story: Advocating for mental health on campus

Written by James Whitbread

Washington State University is a special place for many reasons. The community atmosphere here pulls and keeps people together, while we are still in school and after we graduate. This university presents its students with multitudes of professional development, humanitarian, volunteer, social justice, and many other opportunities. Being from WSU fills me with a sense of pride, and Health & Wellness Services (HWS) contributes greatly to this.

For two years, I have been a mental health awareness advocate, working tirelessly to improve our campus community and make it one that is accepting and understanding of mental illness and mental health difficulties. This would not have been possible without HWS. Victoria Braun, a health promotion specialist and suicide prevention coordinator that works there, has been invaluable to this goal.

Two years ago, when I approached Victoria with an idea to start a registered student organization for mental health awareness, she immediately jumped on board. Through the development of our current organization, To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) WSU, Victoria has been an adviser and friend who has helped in innumerable ways. We have organized everything from simple tabling events all the way to a mental health awareness week in collaboration with HWS and ASWSU. Our crowning achievement so far has been a spoken word event entitled “Hope”, during which a dozen performers of everything from music to spoken word shared their experiences with mental health difficulties in the context of hope for the future. It was a highly-attended event, and audience feedback indicated it was a meaningful experience.

Victoria’s impact on the community has been great, but so has her impact on me. Oftentimes, I find myself thinking of things through the way she would. I wonder about what she would think or say, how she would respond to the situation. Her instruction and teachings will stay with me, and her expertise and ability to impart knowledge so easily show how high-caliber and useful HWS is because of the people it employs.

I am passionate about mental health advocacy for a myriad of reasons, but one of the most significant being that it is a profound need on college campuses around the nation. My hope is to destigmatize mental health difficulties, and to get students to start the conversation concerning mental health. It is only by achieving this that we can create a compassionate and understanding community, and HWS has been integral to the progress we have made.

Even outside the realm of mental health advocacy, the health promotion team at HWS works tirelessly to keep students healthy in every way. Being a holistic wellness facilitator for HWS, I have witnessed this first-hand and been able to contribute. Taylor Schwab and his team have created pertinent and meaningful workshops, presentations, and events to promote healthy lifestyles for the benefit of the students at WSU. Participating in these and working with HWS as a facilitator has given me an appreciation for preventative medicine.

The work of people like Taylor and Victoria is incredibly important to the overall health of the WSU community, and being able to work with them has taught me the importance of health promotion, constant learning, professional development, and many more aspects of health that has prepared me for my own future. As a pre-med student hoping to become a physician, the experiences I have had with HWS have been learning opportunities I will not soon forget.

James Whitbread is a senior at WSU completing a B.S. in theoretical mathematics, having completed minors in sociology, chemistry, molecular biosciences, and biology. Throughout his time at WSU, he has worked as a student leader in mental health advocacy and health promotion, and hopes to be admitted to medical school this year to practice a holistic approach to medicine as an M.D.

Show your support for suicide prevention

12 ways to participate in National Suicide Prevention Week

National Suicide Prevention Week is happening September 10 – 16, 2017 and there are numerous ways you can show your support!

At WSU, we want to create a supportive community that encourages people to get help when they experience a mental health concern or thoughts of suicide. Mental health issues are a normal, common experience. It’s okay to ask for help and there are resources on campus to support you and your friends.

Join your fellow Cougs and others around the nation to work towards the common goal of preventing suicide. Here are some ways you can promote mental health and prevent suicide any day of the week.

  1. Add the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to your phone and follow them on Facebook or Twitter.
  2. Learn about how you can support a friend who is struggling with a mental health concern.
  3. Do something positive for your mental health. You might try some creative self-care or enjoy some exercise, the outdoors, time with friends, or a healthy meal.
  4. Join WSU’s chapter of To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA). TWLOHA is a nation-wide nonprofit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide.
  5. Find out what the warning signs for suicide are, and what to do if you’re concerned about someone in your life.
  6. Sign up for suicide prevention training Campus Connect or take this training online.
  7. Fight the stress of school with some extra self-compassion.
  8. Sign up to get personalized stress management tips by texting “STRESS” to 30644.
  9. Subscribe to our email list to get more information about mental health and suicide prevention at WSU.
  10. Try meditating today. Mindfulness meditation can help reduce anxiety, depression, and stress, while increasing happiness and quality of life.
  11. Participate in the University of Idaho’s, “We got your back” suicide awareness 5K.
  12. If there’s someone you’re concerned about, take a minute to check in with them and ask how they’re doing – it could change their life.

Get your flu vaccine!

Get your flu vaccine

Flu season is approaching fast! You can prevent the flu by getting your flu vaccine at one of our Flu Shot Friday events or by making an appointment with your health care provider.

It’s important that you get your flu shot early in the season. After getting a flu vaccine, it takes about two weeks for your body to develop the antibodies that will protect you from flu virus.

Flu Shot Fridays

Every Friday from September 29 to October 27
10 am to 3 pm
Washington Building, ground floor entrance

Unable to make it to a Flu Shot Friday or want your shot sooner? Flu vaccines are available now in our clinic. Students can make an appointment online or by phone to get a flu shot.

WSU students, faculty, and staff, as well as local community members, can get their flu shots at Flu Shot Fridays. We won’t be able to give the vaccine to those who are pregnant or under age 18.

Cost

Flu shots are covered in full by most insurance plans. If you don’t have insurance or are concerned about costs, we’re here to help you! Contact our billing office at 509-335-3575.

Make sure to bring your insurance card! We won’t be taking payment at the time of the services for Flu Shot Fridays, but we’ll take down your insurance information for billing.

Parking options

We’ll have some parking spaces reserved in the green lot at Stadium Way and SE Nevada St. for Flu Shot Fridays. Reserved spaces will be marked with orange cones. Metered parking spots are available on NE Washington St.

There are also a number of zoned parking lots available nearby for permit holders. For a detailed parking map, visit Transportation Services. Our building is also easily accessible via public transit. Visit Pullman Transit for routes and schedules.

Map of Health and Wellness Services building

Vaccine type

There are two types of flu shot: intradermal and intramuscular. Intradermal shots are given by injecting a small amount of concentrated flu vaccine in the top layers of the skin. The needle used for intradermal shots is smaller than a traditional shot, which makes this type a great choice if you have a fear of needles.

Intramuscular shots are given by injecting vaccine into the muscle. At Flu Shot Fridays, we typically give intradermal injections, but you can ask for an intramuscular injection if you’d prefer one.

Get stress management tips

Get stress management tips

Feeling stressed, need help coping, or just want tips for managing your stress? We can help!

Join our text messaging program and we will:

  • Check in with you every week to see how you’re doing
  • Send you weekly tips for lowering stress
  • Enter you to win a prizes like a fitness class pass, UREC coupon code, and more
  • Share information about health-related events and resources around campus

To sign up, text “STRESS” to 30644. You can join at any point in the semester!

You can also check out our stress management workshops and other programs.

Services covered by health fee


Your student health fee enables Health & Wellness Services and Counseling and Psychological Services to offer a comprehensive suite of services in one convenient on-campus location.

Your fall 2017 health fee eligibility starts today! If you’re enrolled for the fall semester, you can begin accessing our services and programs.

Students who pay the health fee receive access to a wide range of health services at no additional cost, including:

  • One medical clinic office visit per semester, which covers the face-to-face time spent with a health care provider only. This excludes comprehensive physicals, specialty visits to Behavioral Health or the vision clinic, procedures, immunizations, and travel clinic.
  • 24/7 medical advice from our nursing staff over our telephone nurse line at 509-335-3575
  • Same-day mental health services at Behavioral Health (on referral from your health care provider)
  • Referral coordinator to help you find community providers for specialty services
  • Certified health insurance navigators to help students without insurance understand their options through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange
  • Nutrition counseling with our registered dietitian
  • Tobacco cessation counseling and nicotine replacements through Behavioral Health
  • Health screenings for cholesterol, blood pressure, stress, cancer screening skills and more
  • Educational programs covering a range of topics including stress management, mental health, life skills, substance use, and violence prevention
  • 24-hour crisis line operated by Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
  • Unlimited group counseling and workshops as well as brief, focused individual therapy and other psychological services provided at CAPS

Charges for additional services will be billed to your insurance. Don’t have insurance? Call us and get help from our certified health insurance navigators. We also offer a financial assistance program for students who need help paying for medical services at our clinic.

For details on costs for services and insurance companies we’re contracted with, visit our billing page. As always, don’t hesitate to call our billing staff at 509-335-3575 with any questions about costs and insurance!

Help a friend with a mental health concern

Help a friend with a mental health concern

60 percent of Cougs say they want more information on how to help a friend in distress. While people can struggle for many reasons, it’s possible someone you care about will experience distress due to a mental health concern.

Stigma around mental health can cause people to hide their problem or prevent them from getting help. But talking about mental health can help overcome negative attitudes and encourage people to get help when they need it.

The best thing you can do for someone going through a mental health problem is to assure them of your support. If you have a friend with a mental health concern, try using empathy and active listening the next time you’re talking mental health.

Empathy

Empathy is about perspective taking – trying to understand what someone else is going through from their perspective. Even if you haven’t personally experienced what your friend is going through, you can still express empathy.

When someone shares about a mental health problem, don’t feel like you have to give advice or know the perfect answer. Instead, try to acknowledge their emotions and listen non-judgmentally to what they share.

Active listening

When someone shares about a mental health problem, try to listen carefully, then paraphrase what they say back to them. You can also ask clarifying questions to help you better understand what they’re going through.

One of the best ways to develop active listening skills is to ask yourself, “What would I have wanted someone to say to me during a time when I was struggling or experiencing a crisis?” It’s likely you didn’t want advice or suggestions about what to do. More than anything, you probably wanted support and assurance that you weren’t alone.

Let’s put empathy and active listening into practice. Here are some comparisons of helpful and unhelpful things to say to someone struggling with a mental health concern.

HelpfulUnhelpful
“It sounds like you’re feeling frustrated and hopeless.”Talking too much about yourself: “I know exactly how you feel!”
“What has been helpful to you in the past when you struggled?”“You just need to…”
“This sounds like a challenging time. How can I be the best help to you now?”Relying too much on reassuring: “Everything is going to be okay… you’ll get over it!”
“I don’t know what to say right now, I’m just so glad you told me.”Not saying anything at all because you don’t know what to say.
Offer resources for support and let them decide if and when to access them. Not offering support or resources.

When you’re talking with someone about their mental health, remember that pauses and brief silences are okay. Sometimes people who are going through something need time to reflect and gather their thoughts.

Do you want to learn more about supporting someone who’s experiencing a mental health crisis? Sign up for our Mental Health First Aid class or suicide prevention training, Campus Connect.

Notice of Accreditation Survey

Washington State University, Health & Wellness Services

Survey dates: July 19–20, 2017

The above-named organization has voluntarily requested this accreditation survey as a means of having a third-party review of the entire organization to build upon strengths or identify opportunities to improve its delivery of safe, high-quality health care. The survey will evaluate the organization’s compliance with AAAHC Standards for ambulatory health care organizations and to determine if accreditation should be awarded to, or retained by, this organization.

Members of the general public, patients, and individuals on the staff of this organization, believing that they have relevant and valid information about this organization’s provision of health care or compliance with AAAHC Standards, may request to present this information to AAAHC surveyors at the time of the survey or may communicate such information in writing or by telephone to the AAAHC office.

All information received from identified individuals at or prior to the survey will be considered in making the accreditation decision. The information presented will not be debated with the reporting individual. Requests for presentation must be received at least two weeks prior to the survey in order to allow sufficient time to schedule presentations.

A request to present or report information may be communicated in writing by mail to the address below; email to feedback@aaahc.org; or by telephone as listed below.

Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, Inc.

5250 Old Orchard Road, Suite 200

Skokie, IL 60077

Telephone: 847-853-6060

FAX: 847-853-9028

This Notice of Accreditation Survey is posted in accordance with AAAHC requirements, and may not be removed until after the survey has concluded, or until it has been posted for 30 days if the survey ends prior to that period.

Suicide prevention training available online

Suicide prevention training available online

Research shows the majority of college students who choose to tell someone they’re having suicidal thoughts talk to a friend, roommate, or romantic partner.1 That’s why it’s critical to prepare WSU students to respond to someone in crisis.

As part of our broader suicide prevention efforts, we’re working to train as many students, faculty, and staff as possible through our Campus Connect program. Starting this summer, Campus Connect is available online through our partnership with Global Campus.

Online training gives every Coug access to reliable resources and information related to suicide, and establishes a permanent resource they can refer back to. Offering the program online also ensures that WSU students on campuses throughout Washington and all over the world have access to suicide prevention training.

Anyone with a WSU ID number can access free, full-length suicide prevention training online.  To attend, Campus Connect you can visit the Global Campus website. You can also request brochures typically provided during training.

Please note the activities in this training were modified to suit the needs of a virtual audience. Campus Connect is an interactive training and most effective in-person. Suicide is a challenging and highly personal topic and reactions to talking about issues surrounding mental health and suicide can vary significantly.

If you have more questions or concerns about this topic or training, please email Victoria Braun at Victoria.braun@wsu.edu

1. Drum, Brownson, Burton Denmark, and Smith, 2014 – “New Data on the Nature of Suicidal Crises in College Students: Shifting the Paradigm.” pg. 218

We’re adding more mental health training options

We’re expanding training opportunities for mental health and suicide prevention. By adding more facilitators and online trainings, we’ll be able to educate more Cougs!

We now have two Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) facilitators. Our MHFA classes are always full and we often have to put people on a waiting list. With two facilitators on staff, we’ll be able to train more Cougs how to recognize and assist someone experiencing a mental health crisis.

We’re working with Global Campus to make mental health-related webinars, like mindfulness and self-care, available online. And coming soon, our suicide prevention training, Campus Connect, will also be available online.

Providing online trainings allows us to reach more people, and establishes a reliable web-based mental health reference Cougs can refer back to.

Additionally, this fall we’re implementing a Campus Connect refresher course to ensure previous participants are up-to-date on best practices in suicide prevention. All returning resident advisors will participate in the refresher course, and new resident advisors will take Campus Connect training for the first time.

When we meet with returning resident advisors, we’ll discuss how they’ve used information from Campus Connect in the past year. We’ll talk about any struggles they experienced with implementing the material, and how we can improve our program in the future.

By utilizing different formats to deliver trainings, and increasing the number of trainings we offer, we’ll be able to train more Cougs, both online, and at the Pullman campus.

Viewing guide for “13 Reasons Why”

Viewing guide for “13 Reasons Why”

The new Netflix series “13 Reasons Why”, a fictional story about a high school student who dies by suicide, has sparked many conversations about suicide and mental health. Recently, we’ve been getting a lot of questions about this show during suicide prevention and mental health trainings.

We’re really glad to hear community members talking about suicide and mental health. Talking about these topics in a caring and non-judgmental way helps create a culture that encourages getting help when you need it.

Like any dramatized account of mental health issues, it’s important to watch the show with a critical eye. If you’re thinking about watching, or have already watched, “13 Reasons Why”, here are some things to keep in mind.

Make a thoughtful decision whether or not watch the show. You may not want to watch if you’re experiencing, or have previously experienced, significant depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

Consider watching the show with others. Discuss what you’re seeing and experiencing along the way.

Be mindful of how the show is affecting you. Stop watching if you find yourself feeling distraught or depressed, having thoughts of suicide, or having trouble sleeping. If this happens, talk about it with someone you trust.

Think about how you might make different choices than the characters. For example, it might be helpful to think through when and how someone could have intervened to help the main character. 

Suicide affects everyone. If you see or hear warning signs that someone is at risk of suicide, it’s critical to get help right away.

If you’re concerned about someone, talk with them openly and honestly. Asking someone if they’re having suicidal thoughts will not make them more suicidal or put the idea of suicide in their mind.

Counselors are professionals and a trustworthy source for help. If your experience with a counselor or therapist is unhelpful, look for another professional to talk to or seek out other sources of support, such as a crisis line.

Suicide is never the fault of survivors. There are resources and support groups to help survivors of suicide loss.

Care for yourself, your friends, and your family members. If you or someone you know is struggling mentally or emotionally, please get help. Getting support from loved ones and mental health care professionals can save lives.

We based these recommendations on guidance from the Jed Foundation.