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Health & Wellness Services Division of Student Affairs

9 ways you can promote mental health

9 ways you can promote mental health

According to our National College Health Assessment for 2016, Cougs report that stress, sleep difficulties and anxiety are the top three health factors affecting their academic performance within the last 12 months.

By encouraging Cougs’ mental and emotional well-being, faculty and staff can support their academic success. To get started, check out this list of ideas and resources you can use in the year ahead.

  1. Be familiar with campus resources. Learn more about mental health resources and include a list in your syllabus or student employee training materials.
  2. Get connected. Subscribe to receive email updates about mental health promotion and suicide prevention efforts at WSU.
  3. Take a training. Attend Campus Connect suicide prevention training or schedule a training for your department.
  4. Encourage stress management. Let students know about our stress management text messaging service. Add a Power Point slide to a presentation or advertise on your office’s digital reader board.
  5. Talk about it! Integrate a mental health topic into a classroom discussion or project.
  6. Support students in distress. Know how to use the AWARE Network to share your concerns about a student’s well-being, behavior, or academic performance. This system will connect the student with University staff that can help.
  7. Get your staff involved. Add a mental health component to a staff training or brainstorm ways your department can promote mental health.
  8. Advertise mental health resources. Print suicide prevention resources fliers or request brochures to display in your office.
  9. Join the Campus Mental Health Collaborative. This group works together to implement a comprehensive public health framework to promote mental health and prevent suicide of WSU students. Email programs@wsu.edu to get involved.

Is there another way you’re promoting mental health at WSU? Let us know by sending an email to hws.programs@wsu.edu

Toolkit for supporting students in distress

Toolkit for supporting students in distress

Student Affairs is currently developing a toolkit that faculty and staff can use to help students who are in distress. The goal of the toolkit is to ensure students have a successful academic career by getting them connected to campus resources that will support their specific needs.

Faculty and staff play a key role in the lives of students. They work closely with them and are often able to notice when a student is having a hard time.

With the help of the toolkit, faculty and staff will be able to recognize potential signs of distress, respond in the moment, and connect the student to appropriate campus resources.

The guide will cover a wide range of concerns. For example, if a student experiences the loss of a family member, financial issues, violence, or a mental health concern, the guide will offer steps for helping the student and connecting them to specific campus resources.

To develop this guide, we reviewed similar toolkits from other universities and sought feedback from WSU faculty, advisors, deans, administrators, and staff. Our team decided to adapt a guide created by UMatter at UMass and tailor it to the specific needs of our community.

The toolkit will be available this fall in an online format. If you want to know when it’s live, you can subscribe to receive email updates about suicide prevention and mental health promotion.

Accomplishments during grant’s first year

Accomplishments during grant’s first year

We recently met with members of the Campus Mental Health Collaborative to discuss ongoing suicide prevention and mental health promotion efforts.

During our meeting, we talked about goals for the SAMSHA Garrett Lee Smith Suicide Prevention Grant and what we’ve done so far.

SAMSHA grant goals

Promote mental health through campus-wide partnerships. Together, collaborative members are actively looking for ways to support each other’s mental health promotion efforts. For example, during our meeting, departments brainstormed the idea of adding a mental health component to their staff and student trainings.

Offer suicide prevention training. Last year we began offering suicide prevention training, Campus Connect. Over 430 Cougs have taken this training and we expanded it to an online format.

In addition to education on best practices for responding to someone in crisis, Campus Connect teaches essential communication and relationship building skills. Departments like Athletics and Residence Life find this training so valuable, they require their employees to take it.

Collect and evaluate data to refine our mental health promotion activities. We want all Cougs to get more information about suicide prevention and to get help if they experience a mental health concern. To measure our progress towards these goals, we use data from the National College Health Assessment and quarterly grant reports. This data will also help us understand how we can support students’ changing mental health needs.

Expand and improve programs for students. This past spring, we launched a stress management texting program which sends students tips for managing their stress – over 680 Cougs have signed up! Currently, we’re expanding this program for student-athletes, and we hope to offer it to more groups on campus.

Moving forward, we plan to adapt content from a research-based stress management workshop. We also are looking for faculty collaborators to evaluate the texting program.

Inform Cougs about support services and decrease stigma around mental health. We’re working with a team of students in the Murrow College of Communication on a campaign to promote a mental health screening tool and educate students about resources and suicide risk factors.

For the remainder of our meeting, collaborative members gave updates on their current mental health promotion activities and we brainstormed ways to use existing resources to expand our efforts. The meeting concluded with feedback on a guide for responding to students in crisis, which is currently in development.

We look forward to building relationships with collaborative members and supporting each other’s work. If you would like to learn more about the collaborative and stay up-to-date on mental health promotion and suicide prevention, you can subscribe to receive email updates.

Campus-wide support for mental health

Campus-wide support for mental health

This week, the Campus Mental Health Collaborative will meet to discuss ongoing suicide prevention and mental health promotion efforts.

The collaborative launched last fall as part of Health & Wellness Services’ involvement in the SAMHSA Garrett Lee Smith Campus Suicide Prevention Grant and the JED Foundation campus program.

Currently, we’re streamlining campus crisis protocols to ensure students in distress get the support they need. Members are also in the process of implementing suggestions from the JED Foundation. For example, Health & Wellness Services and Counseling and Psychological Services are working to better integrate medical systems and expand the number of suicide prevention and mental health training opportunities.

At the upcoming meeting, we plan to review a guide for helping faculty and staff respond to a student in distress. Members will also give updates on their priority projects for mental health and discuss options for expanding access to trainings on other WSU campuses. We’ll continue to look for ways we can support each other’s efforts.

The meeting will take place on October 5, 2017 at 10:00 am in Lighty 405. All are welcome to attend.

To stay updated with mental health promotion and news about the collaborative efforts, make sure you subscribe to our mailing list.

Numbers show mental health promotion success

Numbers show mental health promotion success

Recent data shows we’re successfully promoting mental health on our campus.

We strive to share information about suicide prevention and mental health with as many as students as possible, and we want to encourage all Cougs to get help if they need it.

We’ve done a lot in the past three years to meet these goals. For example, we hired a position dedicated to mental and emotional health, expanded the number of training opportunities for responding to students in crisis, and started regularly sharing about mental health here on our blog!

Latest data from our annual National College Health Assessment shows encouraging results for mental health promotion at WSU.

Cougs are getting more information. By 2016, the number of Cougs who said they received information from WSU on suicide prevention increased to 47 percent – a 14.2 percent increase from 2014.

Cougs are more likely to get help. By 2016, 73.3 percent of Cougs reported they would consider seeking help from a mental health professional if they were experiencing a personal problem that was really bothering them. In 2014, only 66.4 percent said they would consider getting help.

Cougs are utilizing campus mental health services more. According to internal data from Counseling and Psychological Services and Behavioral Health, during the past three years the number of students accessing campus mental health services has increased by 19.4 percent.

Moving forward, we will build on our efforts to share about these important topics with students and encourage them to get help when they need it.

This October, the Campus Mental Health Collaborative will reconvene to discuss ways we can continue to support students’ mental and emotional health at WSU.

You can subscribe to receive email updates about mental health and suicide prevention.

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.

Strengthening crisis response protocol

At our last meeting with the Jed Foundation, they provided us with recommendations for enhancing our suicide prevention and mental health promotion efforts. Based on their feedback report, our top priority is collecting all relevant crisis response protocols in one comprehensive document.

Our ultimate goal is to establish a protocol that clearly communicates action steps for all WSU departments and personnel both during and after helping a student in crisis.

Many universities have multiple policies and protocols for different types of crises, but don’t have a single comprehensive protocol in place. We’re creating a unified protocol as a proactive step to improve cross-campus collaborative support for students who need help.

Right now, members of the Campus Mental Health Collaborative are reviewing WSU’s existing crisis-related policies and protocols to identify potential gaps. We’re also referencing other institutions’ response protocols, which the Jed Foundation and SAMHSA identified as examples of best practice.

Our final comprehensive response protocol is intended to cover situations such as student death, attempted suicide in progress, threats of harm to self or others, arrest or incarceration, disruptive behavior, and other crisis situations.

If you want to learn more about crisis response protocol development, check out the Suicide Prevention Resource Center’s virtual learning lab where they cover how to write and review crisis protocols.

Campus representatives review mental health policies

Campus representatives review mental health policies

Thirty members of the Campus Mental Health Collaborative, including students, staff, and faculty, met last month with an expert from The JED Foundation to begin developing a comprehensive plan for suicide prevention and mental health promotion for WSU Pullman students.

The JED Foundation representative opened the meeting with the foundational recommendation that supporting students’ emotional well-being needs to be a campus-wide effort. From high-level administrators to part-time employees, we can all play critical roles in suicide prevention and mental health promotion efforts. Specifically, we need to support efforts that allow for early detection and effective intervention when a student is struggling.

In fall, members of the collaborative completed a self-assessment of relevant policies and programs. The JED Foundation representative spent the bulk of the three-hour meeting last month reviewing the WSU self-assessment and providing feedback in the nine key areas outlined below, as described in the JED model of suicide prevention:

Campus policies. Policies help establish norms, build awareness, and improve the quality of health services available to students.

Life skills development. Developing strong life skills helps students cope with stress. Some critical areas include managing friendships and relationships, problem solving, decision-making, identifying and managing emotions, healthy living, and understanding identity.

Connectedness. Research shows loneliness and isolation are significant risk factors for mental health problems and/or suicidal behavior. Students who feel connected to campus and have support from friends and family are better equipped to handle the stresses of college life.

Academic performance. Mental health is closely tied to academic performance, and the impact goes both ways. Stress from school can affect students’ mental health, and mental health issues can affect academic performance.

Student wellness. It’s important for students to understand how overall wellness, mental health, and academic performance are interrelated.

Identify students at risk. Studies show many college students who need help do not seek it out on their own.

Increase help-seeking behavior. Students are often unaware of the mental health resources available to them, feel unsure about insurance coverage and costs, or face some other barrier to seeking help.

Provide mental health and substance use disorder services. Offering high-quality mental health services is critical for preventing substance abuse among students and improving academic success.

Means restriction and environmental safety. Removing or limiting means to self-harm can help prevent suicide and improve student safety.

As a next step, the collaborative will identify priority action areas. Subscribe to our mailing list for updates.

Developing a comprehensive plan for suicide prevention

Developing a comprehensive plan  for suicide prevention

This week our Campus Mental Health Collaborative will meet with an expert from The JED Foundation to develop a strategic plan for suicide prevention tailored to our university’s needs. Our work with JED, a national nonprofit working to promote emotional health among college students, is part of our ongoing mental health promotion efforts.

At the meeting, members of the Campus Mental Health Collaborative will review JED’s feedback on gaps and successes in student mental health support at WSU, brainstorm new ideas and resources, outline and prioritize goals, and develop a written strategic plan for improving mental health promotion on campus.

In preparation for the meeting, we conducted an initial review of our resources, policies, and programs. The review covered nine critical areas identified in the JED Campus Framework, which combines the content of a comprehensive model for suicide prevention with expert recommendations on factors related to preventing substance abuse in young people.

Our work with JED is part of the organization’s Campus Program, a nationwide initiative providing colleges and universities with tools and support to promote students’ emotional well-being. Through the program, WSU will receive customized support for developing programs and policies that build on existing student mental health, substance abuse, and suicide prevention efforts.

To stay connected with mental and emotional health promotion efforts at WSU, make sure you’ve subscribed to our mailing list.

Campus Mental Health Collaborative launched

Aerial view of Pullman campus

On October 27, we launched the Campus Mental Health Collaborative, a new group of WSU staff, students and faculty. The Campus Mental Health Collaborative will work together to implement a comprehensive public health framework to promote mental health and prevent suicide of WSU students.

In our first meeting, campus partners discussed two initial projects, SAMHSA’s Garrett Lee Smith Campus Suicide Prevention Grant program and The JED Foundation campus program. These projects, and future efforts of the collaborative, focus on preventing suicide, destigmatizing mental health disorders and promoting help-seeking behavior in the long term.

At the meeting, collaborators from a wide variety of groups shared their ongoing efforts to support student mental health. Notably, student groups including ASWSU and To Write Love On Her Arms talked about ways they are engaging the campus community to destigmatize mental illness and promote mental health resources on campus, including many events and activities taking place this month.

You can find more details on our initial projects and our collaborators’ ongoing efforts in our meeting notes.

If you’d like to receive updates on the Campus Mental Health Collaborative, as well as other events and information on mental and emotional health at WSU, make sure you subscribe to our mailing list.