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Health & Wellness Services Division of Student Affairs

Online mental health screening coming soon

Coming soon, Health & Wellness Services will have an online mental health screening available to WSU students.

Brief screenings are the quickest way to determine if you should connect with a mental health professional – it’s like a checkup from the neck up.

Mental health concerns are common. For example, a 2016 survey of WSU students found that within the past 12 months, 56.1 percent of Cougs reported feeling overwhelming anxiety at some point and 34.8 percent of Cougs felt so depressed that it was difficult to function (ACHA-NCHA, 2016).

While many students experience a mental health concern, they may be unsure if they need help or where to go for support. By making the mental health screening available, we hope to encourage Cougs to get help if they need it.

The program is free of charge, accessible online, and completely anonymous. At the end of the screening, students will get their results, recommendations, and information on local support resources.

By offering the screening, we’ll make progress towards fulfilling our SAMSHA Grant and JED Foundation goals of informing Cougs about mental health support services and decreasing stigma around mental health.

To promote the program, we collaborated with a team of students in the Murrow College of Communication. We’ll be using their research and suggestions as we implement this screening.

We purchased our screening program from Screening for Mental Health, Inc. If you would like to learn more about the mental health screening and stay up to date on mental health promotion and suicide prevention, you can subscribe to receive email updates.

Get your guide for helping students in distress

Faculty and staff are often able to recognize when a student is struggling, but it can be hard to know what to say or do.

To ensure students get the support they need, Student Affairs created a comprehensive guide that faculty and staff can reference when they’re concerned about a student.

The guide covers how to recognize common signs of distress, helpful ways to respond to a student, campus and community support resources, and reporting options.

Each WSU location has a guide with specific campus and community resources. If you want to print or save a PDF guide, click on your WSU location below:

These PDFs are not accessible to screen readers. If you need a screen reader accessible version, please email hws.programs@wsu.edu.

Soon, information from the guide will be available on our website.

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.

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.