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Health & Wellness Services Division of Student Affairs

All RAs take suicide prevention training

All RAs take suicide prevention training

Last week, we trained all 167 resident advisors (RAs) in suicide prevention through our Campus Connect program.

Campus Connect is the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) best practice program  we chose for educating Cougs about suicide and how to respond to someone in crisis.

Campus Connect participants learn about the warning signs for suicide, how to refer someone to appropriate care resources, communication and relationship building skills, and how to ask someone if they’re having thoughts of suicide.

Returning RAs who’ve previously attended Campus Connect took a refresher course to ensure they’re up-to-date on best practices in suicide prevention. These students also shared about their experience with implementing what they learned in the previous year and how we can improve our program in the future.

90 percent of new freshmen live on campus, and RAs play a key role in helping new students transition to college life. While there are many challenges new students encounter, some may struggle with thoughts of suicide.

When all RAs take suicide prevention training, we’re able to help connect students who need help to the appropriate care resources.

We’re extremely proud of all our RAs and the broader WSU community’s commitment to suicide prevention and mental health promotion. Since its implementation last year, over 460 WSU staff and students have taken Campus Connect.

Are you interested in helping a student in crisis? Sign up for Campus Connect or Mental Health First Aid.

How to identify warning signs for suicide

How to identify warning signs for suicide

Knowing the warning signs for suicide can help you notice if someone you care about is at risk for suicide. When you’re familiar with these signs, you’ll know when to be concerned and you’ll feel more confident in your ability to help someone who’s struggling.

Warning signs for suicide are not black and white. Everyone is a little different and it’s possible for someone to experience some or all of the typical warning signs.

The key to noticing warning signs for suicide is to look for changes in a person’s mood or regular behavior. These changes are often most apparent to close friends and family members.

Warning signs for suicide

  • Hopelessness
  • Intense or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge
  • Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking or without caring about consequences
  • Feeling trapped or like there’s no way out
  • Verbal hints such as, “I won’t be around much longer.”
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Withdrawing from friends, family and society
  • Anxiety, agitation, inability to sleep or sleeping all the time
  • Dramatic mood or personality changes
  • Expressing no reason for living or no sense of purpose in life
  • Giving away things that are meaningful, putting affairs in order
  • Seeking access to potentially lethal means (guns, knives, pills, high windows, etc.)
  • Becoming suddenly cheerful after a period of depression
  • Talking about death and suicide

These warning signs are provided by The Jed Foundation.

If you think someone you care about is showing warning signs for suicide, ask them, “How are you doing?” and “Are you experiencing thoughts of suicide?”

Asking someone if they’re struggling with thoughts of suicide won’t put them at risk. And most importantly – it creates an opportunity to offer support and share resources.

Try to not let the fear of a “yes” answer prevent you from asking someone about thoughts of suicide. If this happens, be sure to get appropriate professional help. Counseling and Psychological Services or the National Suicide Lifeline can provide support or if it’s an emergency, you can call 911.

It’s okay for you to feel uncertain about what to say or do when someone expresses that they’re having thoughts of suicide. But the best thing you can do is to get help right away, and stay with them until appropriate care resources are present.

If someone answers “no,” but you’re unsure about their response, try to offer support resources like Counseling and Psychological Services. You can also try reframing your question or check in with that person later.

If you want more information about how to help someone who’s struggling with suicide, please sign up for our suicide prevention training, Campus Connect.

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.

7 tips for talking about suicide

7 tips for talking about suicide

When the topic of suicide comes up, you may feel nervous or uncertain about what to say. You might even be afraid you’ll put someone at risk if you talk about suicide. But this isn’t true. In fact, talking about suicide, even if it’s just a short conversation, can encourage people who are at risk to seek help.

Research indicates that certain types of news coverage can increase the likelihood of suicide in vulnerable individuals. But it isn’t just the media that influences people who are at risk. Conversations and reactions to suicide by peers and community members can also impact people who are struggling.

At WSU, we want to encourage members of our community to get help when they experience thoughts of suicide or other mental health concerns. To make this happen, follow our tips below to ensure you’re talking about suicide in a way that is helpful.

  1. Offer hope by sharing about the many resources and treatment options available to people struggling with thoughts of suicide
  2. Share information about warning signs and encourage others to add the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to their contacts
  3. Talk about mental health concerns as a normal, common experience and emphasize the value of getting help when needed
  4. Refrain from sensationalizing or glamorizing suicide
  5. Avoid speculating and sharing misinformation
  6. Avoid using dramatic or graphic language, including discussion of methods for death by suicide
  7. Educate yourself by seeking out information from suicide prevention experts

Do you want to take an active role in reducing stigma around mental health or learn about how you can support someone experiencing a mental health crisis or suicidal thoughts? Sign up for our Mental Health First Aid workshop or Campus Connect.

These tips are adapted from Reporting on Suicide’s Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide.

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.

Student insurance coverage improves

While prices rise all around us, there is good news for graduate assistants and international students: student insurance rates for next year are decreasing while providing more coverage.

The 2017-2018 insurance plan premium will be $1677 per year, a $183 decrease from last academic year. International students pay their own premiums and will therefore benefit from a direct reduction in their out-of-pocket expense. Graduate assistants’ premiums are paid by their department.

In addition to lower rates, both graduate assistants and international students will receive additional benefits in the 2017-2018 plan. We’ve increased reimbursement for brand name prescription drugs from the current 60 percent to 70 percent. We now cover vision exams in full at our clinic and up to $65 at other vision clinics.

Additionally, international students will now be able to purchase a Delta Dental insurance plan. Graduate assistants receive dental coverage as part of their standard plan.

We’ll post more information about the 2017-2018 plan and benefits on our website in July. Automatic enrollment for qualifying students occurs in the second week of August.

Do you have any questions about your insurance benefit? Please feel free to contact us for more information.

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.