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SAMHSA’s Award-Winning Newsletter
May/June 2009, Volume 17, Number 3 

photo of University of Nebraska at Kearney campus

Courtesy UNK/Publication Design

Suicide Prevention on Campus: Keeping Students Connected

University of Nebraska at Kearney Promotes Mental Health

Entering college can be a stressful time for any young adult. “College can be such an adjustment—leaving your family, feeling homesick, and adjusting to life as an adult,” said Kristin A. Steinbeck, M.A., LPC, Suicide Prevention Director at the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) Counseling and Health Care Center.

For someone struggling with depression or a substance abuse problem, reaching out to find help may be even harder than for a typical overwhelmed college student.

Until they need it, few students know where the counseling center is on campus—or even if one exists. Ask Ms. Steinbeck. She spent 4 years as an undergraduate at UNK, but it wasn’t until late into her graduate studies that she found out about the university’s mental health services.

Now, part of Ms. Steinbeck’s daily work is to make sure students, professors, and administrators know that free and confidential counseling services are available—and, especially, that it’s okay to get help. She also works one on one with students as a counselor.

In 2006, SAMHSA awarded UNK a Campus Suicide Prevention grant through the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act (see SAMHSA’s Campus Suicide Prevention Grant Program). Currently, SAMHSA grants fund 49 colleges and universities around the Nation. Many other schools have already “graduated” from the program.

The Agency plans to fund 21 new grants in 2009, according to Rosalyn Blogier, LCSW-C, SAMHSA’s Team Coordinator for the program. Ms. Blogier is a public health advisor in the Agency’s Suicide Prevention Branch at the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS).

“Since the program began in 2005, we’ve really gained momentum and built a network of schools that can spread the word that help is out there—and where to find it,” she said. “Some of our grantees partner with their state and local suicide prevention programs. Others, like Syracuse University, share what they’ve learned over the course of their grant with newer grantees.” (See Gatekeeper Training: Syracuse University.)

Preliminary data gathered by Ms. Steinbeck and her team indicate that their efforts to raise awareness among UNK students are succeeding. In fall 2006, when the university first received the grant, only 698 sessions were held at the Counseling Care Center. Two years later, in fall 2008, that number jumped to 1,180.

“I think the need was always there. What’s different is students know about us and trust that we’re here to help,” Ms. Steinbeck said. “Word of mouth, especially on the Internet, is our best outreach.”

Active Minds

Incorporating ever-growing social media networks to spread the word about their activities and services is part of UNK’s outreach program. Active Minds is a student-run organization that promotes help-seeking behaviors and sponsors activities that encourage people to talk positively and openly about mental health challenges and suicide prevention. Approximately 200 campuses in the United States operate a chapter.

“The group’s main focus is to eliminate stigma associated with getting help,” Ms. Steinbeck explained. The UNK chapter, which formed early in the 2007-2008 academic year, recently was deemed a five-star chapter by the national office because of its robust programming. That is the highest ranking a chapter can achieve.

The UNK Active Minds chapter includes 4 executive members who meet weekly and 10 to 12 members who meet every other week. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, Ms. Steinbeck said.

More than 50 Active Minds members at UNK use Facebook to stay connected. “We have a lot of people who can’t make it to our meetings but find other ways to be involved,” she said.

Student members will post an announcement on Facebook or the university’s “blackboard” system and ask people to share information with their classmates. “Responses from professors, administrators, and students are positive and encouraging,” Ms. Steinbeck said. “People are concerned about mental health.”

Ms. Steinbeck stressed that asking students to share information with their peers does more than promote an event or the group—it shows students that it’s okay to talk about mental health problems. “A kid can stand up in front of a class of 30, 40, or even 100 and get the word out that services are available and that it’s okay to use them,” she said.




President’s Budget

President’s Budget

FY2010 Budget sustains critical programs.


  Treatment Improvement  
   Protocols  
Addressing Suicidal Thoughts & Behaviors

Addressing Suicidal Thoughts & Behaviors

From CSAT, TIP 50 offers guidance to substance abuse counselors on how to help clients who may be in crisis.


  Medication-Assisted Treatment  
Buprenorphine: Guide for Nurses

Buprenorphine: Guide for Nurses

Specific guidance for nurses and nurse care managers.

Methadone Safety

Methadone Safety

Safe use of methadone, a medication for opioid addiction, is the focus of a new campaign.


  Data on Depression  
MDE and Youth

MDE and Youth

In 2007, 2 million adolescents had a major depressive episode.

MDE and Adults

More than 16 million adults struggle with depression.


  Focus on Children  
Mental Health Awareness Day

Mental Health Awareness Day

Eight young people take center stage in a celebration of the arts as a way to cope with mental health problems. Photo Gallery.

Data on Children, Parents, Drugs

More than 8.3 million children lived with a parent who was dependent on or abused alcohol or drugs during the past year.


  Women’s Behavioral Health  
Mental Health Publications

Mental Health Publications

“Action Steps” for professionals and “What It Means To You” for consumers are available to order.

Pregnancy & Substance Abuse

Pregnancy & Substance Abuse

How much are alcohol and drugs used during pregnancy and after childbirth?


  Recovery Month  
20th Anniversary Includes TV Spots, PSAs

20th Anniversary Includes TV Spots, PSAs

With a few months to go, the Recovery Month Web site offers flyers, banners, and more.


  Also in this Issue  
PRISM Awards

PRISM Awards

Celebrating excellence in Hollywood. Photo Gallery.

ADDERALL® & College Students

ADDERALL® & College Students

Full-time college students are twice as likely to use Adderall® nonmedically.

Real Warriors Campaign

Real Warriors Campaign

Helping service members break through stigma to ask for help.



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