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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

Changing Perspectives

Getting students to reach out to other students is a critical focus of UNK’s suicide prevention program, Ms. Steinbeck said. As part of the SAMHSA grant, the campus conducts a yearly survey that asks students, faculty, and staff about perception, such as if they would feel comfortable talking to someone about mental health issues and how they perceive the campus atmosphere.

“There’s a negative perception that people who have mental health issues are different and that they’re not okay,” Ms. Steinbeck said. She explained that in Midwest Nebraska, many people get by with the “do-it-yourself, pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps” mentality. “You hear them say, ‘Don’t ask for help, you can handle it.’ ”

That’s a driving force behind getting the participating students into classrooms. “We think it’s going to help reduce the stigma more than an adult talking to students,” Ms. Steinbeck said. “Peer-to-peer relationships are important. Otherwise, getting help for a mental health problem can be intimidating—nobody wants to be the odd man out.”

Holistic Approach

“Because of the SAMHSA grant, we’ve been able to pull everyone together, and now we have a more holistic approach,” Ms. Steinbeck said. “Counseling Care works directly with Health Care now, so we can treat physical and mental symptoms in one place.” Before the grant, mental health services and physical health care were separate departments.

Counseling Care also was able to hire a psychiatrist to come into the office once a month. The center also offers workshops and presentations on various mental health topics.

In addition, UNK’s staff received training from Syracuse University (SU), a former SAMHSA grantee, on the Campus Connect “gatekeeper” program that SU established under its own Campus Suicide Prevention grant. A gatekeeper is a person who comes into contact with students, recognizes warning signs of suicide or distress, and then can help link those students to a counselor.

“The Syracuse University program demonstrates how much creativity and progress in mental health promotion and suicide prevention can be achieved under the SAMHSA grant,” Ms. Blogier said. “Their work has informed and enriched the programs of other colleges and universities, and we’ve been able to reach more students because of it.”

Ms. Steinbeck and other staff members now train resident hall advisors (RAs) and students enrolled in nursing, sociology, and psychology classes to act as gatekeepers and help direct students who appear to be in crisis to the counseling center.

“Because we’ve been in classrooms and because we’ve conducted the trainings, RAs know who we are, so if a crisis happens in their buildings, they feel comfortable walking a student to the center,” Ms. Steinbeck said.

Coming Up

Next on the agenda is to post billboards throughout the university and in the town of Kearney, displaying SAMHSA’s National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) as well as the Counseling Care office number and location. “A lot of our students commute or live off campus, so that’s a better way to reach them,” Ms. Steinbeck said.

“The SAMHSA grant allows for flexibility in programming,” Ms. Blogier said. “Some suicide prevention programs need to reach more commuter students while others need to raise awareness in the dorms. Each school has different needs and different target populations.”

Things are definitely changing at UNK, Ms. Steinbeck said. “We now have a designated staff person to visit classrooms and get the word out about mental health services.”

Find out more about UNK’s Counseling Care services. Find out about SAMHSA’s other efforts to prevent suicide.




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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