University Of Nebraska - Kearney

Program Name:  University of Nebraska - Kearney
Grant Type:  Garrett Lee Smith Campus
Grant Status:  Alumni
Year Awarded:  2006
State:  Nebraska

The University of Nebraska Kearney, founded in 1905, is Nebraska's public, residential university that is distinguished by its commitment to be the state's premier institution of undergraduate education. UNK is home to 6,382 undergraduate students from 37 states and 50 countries. UNK's Counseling & Health Care Department supports the academic mission of the University of Nebraska Kearney by providing professional mental and physical health prevention and intervention services, thereby enhancing students' intellectual proficiency. This however is a difficult task when students view "free services" as "less service" and opt not to utilize Counseling & Health Care. Since the Fall of 2004, UNK's Counseling Care has seen a total of 220 students due to a "depressed mood," making up thirty-six percent of all students seen by counselors during that time frame. Of these students, fifty-three percent are clients with suicide ideation and twelve percent have been hospitalized for attempting suicide, with one student committing suicide in the Spring of 2005. Several notable assessments; including the AmericanCollege Health Association-National College Health Assessment, provides data showing that a high percentage of UNK students have or do experience some form of mental health illness. However, many of these students do not seek help due to the stigma associated with mental health illness. Surveys also show that many students arrive on campus already suffering from depression, anxiety and other mental health illnesses. Therefore the target population for this project is first and second year students along with the international student population living on campus. The goals of the UNK Comprehensive Suicide Prevention program are to: (1) increase the number of students seen for mental health issues by 10 percent through physically connecting UNK's Counseling and Health Care offices; (2) enhance UNK's current crisis response plan through training opportunities for the UNK community and those who are actively involved with executing the plan; (3) enhance student services by creating a networking infrastructure to link UNK with at least two providers from the broader community who can treat mental and behavioral health problems; (4) recruit and train nineteen peer counselors to respond effectively when dealing with mental and behavioral health issues; (5) to create a National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) campus organization in order to diminish the stigma and barriers associated with help-seeking behaviors for mental and behavioral health issues by 10 percent within the first year of the organizations existence. To meet these objectives, we propose to conduct gatekeeper training; develop and implement education seminars; provide wellness training to undergraduate peer counselors, disseminate information to parents, and create linkages to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.