HESPC Mini-Grant Awards AY2016

With the support of SAMHSA GLS Suicide Prevention Grant funding,  nine Pennsylvania colleges and universities received mini-grants during the 2015-2016 academic year. These mini-grants provided $5,545.00 in funding for suicide prevention efforts on campus.


Bloomsburg University

Tim Knoster

Grant funds were utilized to incentivize university student and staff participation in a visible mental health awareness event on campus, which aligned with a larger, campus-wide mental health awareness campaign. This event titled, “Challenging Misperceptions About Mental Illness” featured a panel of regional experts in the field of mental health treatment, as well as community members with lived experience. Evaluation feedback indicated that participants; found the information helpful to them personally or professionally, benefited from the questions posed by other attendees, and benefited from the materials provided.  Bloomsburg University plans to continue to enhance their awareness efforts more comprehensively in the 2016-2017 school year and on.


Carnegie Mellon University

Lauren Aikin-Smith

Grant funds were utilized to train students, staff, and faculty in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA). The program helped participants learn methods of recognizing signs of mental health issues and how to support those who may be experiencing a mental health crisis. Feedback from the tool provided by MHFA showed that participants found the training to be informative, useful, interesting, helpful, and thought provoking. Carnegie Mellon plans to continue MHFA training, with an emphasis on suicide awareness.


Drexel University

Erica van Zijil de Jong

Drexel University’s grant award helped fund a presentation to Drexel students by Jackie Riccardi, from Minding Your Mind. Jackie spoke on the stigmas associated with mental health, the signs and symptoms associated with depression and suicide, and shared her lived experience. Resources on mental health and suicide prevention were provided. The presentation aimed to clarify and discuss prevention through education.


La Salle University

Katie Minese

The La Salle University Peer Educators have developed a suicide prevention awareness program entitled: “Speak Up, Reach Out” (SURO). The Peers have various outreaches aimed at increasing awareness about suicide and the resources available to students struggling with mental health concerns on campus. La Salle University’s mini-grant was utilized to fund two of these outreaches; a presentation from Minding your Mind, and a social marketing campaign. Through tabling efforts, the plan was to promote both the speaking event, and hand out free wrist bands. In order for a student to receive the wrist bands, they had to “like” the Peer Educators Facebook/Instagram accounts. The purpose of the campaign and speaking event is to challenge the stigma of suicide and mental illness and to encourage students to speak openly about their concerns and experiences.


Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

Ruth Conboy

The purpose of this project was to increase visibility of PCOM support services available to students. Evaluation of programming showed that students reported an unawareness of the location of mental health resources. Since each student is required to wear a student ID, grant funds were utilized to purchase and distribute lanyards and contact cards containing support service information. The lanyards are imprinted with, “We are in this together, you are not alone.” The informaiton cards can be worn on the lanyards with each students ID card so they always have the resources close at hand. A survey will be distributed to gauge students awareness of campus mental health services and the quality of those services.


Seton Hill College

Terri Bassi-Cook

Grant funds were utilized to provide materials for Mental Health First Aid training for Seton Hill’s Residence Life staff. The purpose of this project was to provide training to these specific professionals who engaged with students on a regular basis and would be able to identify students with mental health concerns; as well as make appropriate referrals. This training took place prior to the Fall Semester.


University of Pittsburgh-Bradford

Leslie Rhinehart

Grant funds were utilized to obtain certification for the  Counseling Services Director in  Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) gatekeeper training. This certification allows this counselor to train others on campus in QPR. She plans to use this during Residence Assistance (RA) training over the next three years. Additionally, funds were used to purchase training and promotional materials to utilize during the training.  Once the RAs are trained, they plan to visit their residents, check in, and distribute materials.


University of the Sciences

Gauri Saxena

Grant funds were utilized to purchase resource cards to be distributed to students, promoting the university’s Student Early Intervention Response Team (SEIT). The purpose of this was to increase awareness of Student Health and Counseling on campus, and to increase awareness and accessibility of off campus resources and services available to students.  Distribution of these cards will be to campus departments as well as to students directly. When the cards are delivered to campus departments, a brief training will take place which covers active listening skills, effective communication with students about difficult topics, and how to refer to the campus counseling center. Evaluation efforts will be through adding questions directly related to the cards in a campus climate survey.


Wilson College

Leah Rockwell

Wilson College hosted it’s first “Let it Go” event where students launched paper lanterns to generate hope and awareness about suicide prevention. This event also featured a brief introduction about suicide prevention and bystander intervention, and readings and performances by student volunteers. Feedback from the event was positive, which included social media posts. The event tracked a high number of lnstagram posts and Facebook posts, indicating that even students who did not directly take part chose to acknowledge the event and its topic.