Colorado Mesa University

Program Name:  Colorado Mesa University Behavioral Health Bridges Initiative
Grant Type:  Garrett Lee Smith Campus
Grant Status:  Alumni
Year Awarded:  2015
State:  Colorado

The Colorado Mesa University (CMU) Behavioral Health Bridges Initiative will develop a more robust suicide prevention and substance abuse awareness program on the CMU campus. This plan will consist of: multiple approaches to develop referral and follow-up processes to behavioral health providers; suicide prevention programming and training; consistent messaging; and an infrastructure to prevent suicide and promote help-seeking behavior in the future. Colorado Mesa University has an enrollment of more than 8,780 students with almost 13% of the University's student body coming from outside Colorado. The student population is 54% female and 46% male. Traditionally underrepresented groups compose 24% of the student population. Just over three-quarters (76%) of students are traditional-aged students enrolled in full-time study.

The Behavioral Health Bridges Initiative has three main goals. The first goal is to develop an infrastructure to support referrals to campus and community based services designed to prevent suicide, while improving the efficiency of follow-up intervention procedures. To accomplish this, a new position will be developed with a primary function of coordinating these processes by incorporating a tracking system and establishing close relationships with service providers and students. The second goal is to improve the suicide prevention training practices among faculty, staff, students, and at-risk populations on the CMU campus. In each year of the project key campus personnel will receive suicide prevention training. A total of 270 faculty and staff members and 695 students will receive formalized suicide prevention training by the end of the grant period. Comprehensive two-day trainings and condensed trainings will be offered through this initiative. The third goal is to build a campus culture of consistent messaging around the issues of substance abuse prevention, mental health access, and suicide prevention. Messaging about substance abuse, mental health access, and suicide prevention will be distributed to over 8,000 students throughout the duration of the project and will incorporate a deliberate cultural shift to promote behavioral health services.

Key collaborations with student organizations in the Gay Straight Alliance, Native American Alliance, and Student Veterans Association will be critical for the Behavioral Health Bridges Initiative. These organizations will host guest speakers on campus, where 360 students are expected to hear messages on suicide prevention. Partnerships with faith-based student organizations will also contribute to promoting a consistent message of help seeking behavior. The project will also hold behavioral health screenings where a total of 360 students will be screened, and will distribute Spanish language wallet cards on suicide prevention to at least 50 students each year. These collaborations will create on-campus events raising awareness of suicide prevention and positive help-seeking behavior.