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With help from a SAMHSA grant, the University Counseling Center creates further resources for students on-campus, and across the country
Cate Zenzen |
The University Counseling Center is committed to the mental well-being of the Lipscomb community, a truth proven by its work to further the conversation around mental health. The office recently completed a three-year Garrett Lee Smith Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration campus suicide prevention grant. It is a resource that enables the integration of proactive suicide prevention measures on campus. SAMHSA provides this grant to help universities deliver and sustain effective mental health and substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery support services.
“With this grant we wanted to implement suicide prevention training opportunities for students and faculty, hold events focused on educating students on emotional wellness and ways to prevent mental health struggles, and break the stigma around talking about mental health and reaching out for mental health services,” said Andrea Mills, assistant director of the Counseling Center.
Mills emphasized how important these resources are, especially on a college campus. She pointed to the results of a 2019 survey by the American College Health Association that shared 66 percent of students experienced overwhelming anxiety, 56 percent had feelings of hopelessness, 45 percent experienced depression that made it difficult to function, and 13 percent had seriously considered suicide.
“Those statistics show the importance of talking about mental health. It is a major issue that affects so many of our students. While universities are institutions of education, by addressing issues around mental health we help to improve student retention and equip students with tools to handle stress later in life,” said Mills.
One special goal met with this grant was the creation of a video featuring a student’s journey with depression. Directed by Elizabeth Olmstead and produced by Colton Mulligan, viewers are given a first-look at the mental health battles young adults endure -- and the resources that help. The video will be shared with students, particularly incoming freshmen, and other universities around the nation to continue education on mental health.
“One of our amazing students offered to share her story so that other people might feel less fear around this topic. It will help students feel less alone when they experience sadness, worry, or moments of hopelessness,” said Mills.
The video is just one of the resources students have access to at Lipscomb. The University Counseling Center provides free counseling and support services for students to confidentially discuss personal or psychological concerns with professional staff. Not only is it important for students to have this safe space, but Mills confidently shares that it really helps. In a recent survey of students who attend regular sessions, 52% said they felt they would have had trouble academically if they had not come to counseling.
“One thing that makes Lipscomb special is our desire to love and care for our students beyond the classroom. Lipscomb desires to care for the whole person; that means academic, emotional, physical, and spiritual health,” said Mills.
While mental health is important in all circumstances, social isolation requirements and news surrounding COVID-19 provide additional challenges for everyone. Mills recommends students stay connected with friends virtually, spend time outside, exercise, and take time to connect with God. She reminds students that this is temporary -- soon enough life will be chaotic again and this imposed slow-down is a great time for reflection and refreshment. For students who benefit from talking with a professional, the Counseling Center continues to offer telemental health services for students in the state of Tennessee.
The University Counseling Center offers a variety of counseling services provided by licensed professional counselors along with marital and family therapists for students. Professionals help students as they pursue more effective and rewarding lives by confronting personal problems, relationship needs, career questions, and skill development issues. Sessions are free for students, confidential, and at their own pace. For more information click here.