Posted By Tom Plahutnik, Web Editor/Producer - email
Saginaw Valley State University says it will seek to improve the mental health of its students through a $238,000 grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The grant is to support a project aiming to raise awareness of mental and behavioral health problems.
Jennifer Ordway, director of SVSU's Student Counseling Center, said that there is a need for mental health awareness and support at SVSU.
"We have seen a consistent increase in the number of student visits to the counseling center since 2009," she said. "In fact, in 2011 we had an increase of 67 percent."
While the counseling center has two full-time counselors and one part-time counselor, the university said that was not always enough to fully address students' needs. Through grant funding, the part-time counselor will be full time to provide mental health counseling, outreach, programming and training for faculty, staff and students.
"This is not just a topic for the counseling center," Ordway said. "We want to increase collaboration among campus and community partners to deliver the message that suicide prevention is everyone's responsibility."
For many students, Ordway says the college transition can leave them vulnerable to mental health issues.
"Research shows that many people will have their first encounter with mental health issues between the ages of 18 and 24," she said. "Students are starting a new chapter in their life, and the stress is higher. Some students will have a hard time with handling the responsibility of being on their own and managing their time, stress, social life and academics. Putting all these things together can be very stressful for students. If students are not taught how to manage their stress in a healthy way and it goes untreated then their stress could turn into depression or anxiety."
The school said in the 2009-2010 academic year, 16 SVSU students experienced suicidal thoughts or actions serious enough to require treatment or intervention.
Project administrators have set a goal to make SVSU a leader in mental health awareness among faculty, staff and students. They plan to hold online or on-site monthly training sessions, in cooperation with two partnering agencies that focus on warning signs, as well as recruiting and training students for the Active Minds chapter.
The grant took effect Wednesday, Aug. 1 and will be in effect through July 31, 2015.
Copyright 2012 by WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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