Weber State Awarded $300,000 to Fund Mental Health Advocacy Program

OGDEN, Utah – Weber State University has been awarded the $300,000 Garrett Lee Smith Campus Suicide Prevention Grant to fund the Wildcat Support Network: a peer-based program created to decrease mental health stigma and give students additional mental health support. The program will help students better manage stress and work toward decreasing depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide.

WSU’s Counseling & Psychological Services Center received the grant money from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

A portion of the grant, $97,000, was issued on Nov. 30; the remaining sum will be received over the next two years: $101,000 in 2019 and $102,000 in 2020. The money will fund marketing, support staff and incentives for student participation in the Wildcat Support Network.

The first prong of the Wildcat Support Network is educating students as peer advocates for mental health and training them to recognize peers in distress. Students will learn about mental health disorders, suicide-prevention awareness and substance abuse. Additionally, they will learn about campus and community mental health resources and how to respond effectively to peers in crisis.

The second prong of the Wildcat Support Network is a peer support-group facilitator course offered to selected students who have completed Psychology 2810. This course teaches students how to co-facilitate a support group by understanding group dynamics, learning support-group techniques and demonstrating their facilitation skills in a group setting. Trained students will provide mental health support to peers to help them succeed in their education. Peer support groups will be available to students, beginning midway through fall semester 2019.

“Our nation is battling a mental health crisis with ever-increasing rates of anxiety and depression,” said Amy Blunck, WSU’s coordinator of mental health initiatives. “With more than 19,000 eligible Weber State students, the Counseling & Psychological Services Center alone cannot help all of them. Research has shown students are most likely to turn toward their peers for help when they are in crisis. As a result, we are using the peer-based Wildcat Support Network as an additional way for students to receive the mental health support they need.”

The Wildcat Support Network is designed to meet an increased demand for mental health services on campus. Weber State currently has a student-to-counselor ratio of 1-to- 1,837. The program will increase the university’s capacity for mental health support.

Additional mental health support is provided by Therapy Assistance Online (TAO), a platform of free self-help educational modules designed for students to develop strategies to aid in their daily lives. TAO’s educational modules can be completed anytime, and anywhere. Students with an @mail.weber.edu address can sign up for an account at thepath.taoconnect.org.

“We believe that mental health advocacy and suicide prevention is everyone's business,” said Dianna Abel Counseling, Health, and Wellness executive director. “We're doing our very best to address these important issues as a community.”

Visit weber.edu/wsutoday for more news about Weber State University.

Contact:

Amy Blunck, WSU’s coordinator of mental health initiatives
Counseling & Psychological Services Center
801-626-6406 • amytrevethan@weber.edu

Author:

Ross Rosier, Office of Marketing & Communications
801-626-7948 • rossrosier@weber.edu