OMHSAS was recently awarded funding to focus youth suicide prevention efforts in school districts, community colleges, and universities throughout the state. PAYSPI is organizing a coalition of Pennsylvania’s colleges and universities designed to serve as a collaborative learning environment to generate sustainable campus-based ideas to address the needs of students at increased risk for suicide. To this end, all 181 Pennsylvania colleges, community colleges, and universities were recently invited to participate. Presently, just over 50% of all campuses have expressed an interest and willingness to get involved. Participation includes monthly conference calls or web-based video meetings, as well as one face-to-face meeting each of the five years of the project. The annual face-to-face meeting will rotate across the Commonwealth. Campuses may include anyone at their college or university with a direct role with students, particularly areas such as student health, counseling centers, residence life, and student life.
While much of the content of Coalition meetings will develop organically over time to meet the collective needs of campuses, the plan is to initially draw upon resources provided by the Jed Foundation’s Campus Program, which focuses on several areas: promoting social connectedness, identifying students at risk, increasing help-seeking behavior, providing mental health services, following crisis management procedures, restricting access to potentially lethal means, and developing life skills. In addition, campuses with existing programs designed to reduce risk amongst students will share with Coalition members their successes and challenges, including their ability to identify and receive funding to support their efforts.
In the end, the goal is for campuses to hear about, generate, and develop new ideas to promote the emotional well-being of students and to do so in collaboration with other college leaders in Pennsylvania.
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