Wellness Services received a three-year grant for suicide prevention and mental health.

The Garrett Lee Smith Campus Suicide Prevention Program grant was received from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The grant is for $306,000 over three years.

Assistant Director of Wellness Services Over Prevention Outreach and Education B.K. Taylor said that he and Assistant Director of Wellness Services - Counseling Kristen Peltz applied for the grant after noticing an uptick in mental health-related cases.

“For a little bit now, there has been this anticipation for this increase in growing concern of mental health,” Taylor said. “We are no longer discussing the future, it’s here. There is a growing concern of mental health not just on Northwest campus, but on campuses across the nation.”

Part of the problem is a 200 percent increase in triage cases. Taylor said triage cases are when someone walks into the Wellness Center in a sense of crisis.

When Taylor heard Northwest was awarded the grant, he was surprised.

“This was highly competitive grant, relative to my math, was something like less than 5 percent,” Taylor said.

Taylor said he thinks the reason why Wellness Services was awarded the grant is the reputation Northwest has with finding solutions for mental health related problems.

“We’ve got a really good track record of doing really positive and innovative things here at the institution,” Taylor said.

Taylor said that trend continues with what the grant will be used for. He said the grant money is going to allow Northwest to take a completely different approach not only to suicide prevention but also to mental health.

“We’re committed to creating something different than what you’re going to see at any other institution,” Taylor said.

Taylor is referring to the Hope4All program, a program designed to get people help and tools before getting to a point of crisis. Taylor said it is the idea that everyone has room for improvement.

Taylor hopes with this grant Northwest will be able to continue to change the way Northwest handles mental health.

“One of the default answers we had for so long as students and staff is ‘Oh you just need to go see a counselor,’” Taylor said. “Is that really the only answer? Do you really need to or do you need to spend more time meditating so that you can cultivate more spiritual wellness so that you are more of a whole person, or do you need to cultivate more coping skills so you can go into a class to do more public speaking?”

Taylor said other parts of the funding include finding a comprehensive resiliency program, additional screening, additional funding to pre-existing programs and what Taylor considers to be the most unique: an art exhibit.

“We have allocated funding to do a sculpture, a statue, a painting for people to have centralized in campus so that whenever you walk past it as a student, as a faculty member, as a staff member, as a community member, you ask yourself ‘How am I doing?’ or ‘Do I need help?’” Taylor said.

Despite the funding, Taylor said one of the most important parts of getting out of this mental health crisis is every individual.

“Prevention is not done by one person, prevention is not done by two (people), this change in the community is about each and every person and their commitment to developing their own well-being and developing the well-being around them,” Taylor said.

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