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Health & Wellness Services Division of Student Affairs

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.