Eastern Michigan University

SAFE Now: Stigma and Fear End Now
Garrett Lee Smith Campus

Eastern Michigan University (EMU) will develop and implement a plan to address suicide prevention and mental health promotion utilizing a comprehensive and coordinated network of students, faculty, staff and community resources. To be comprehensive not only requires a wide range of participants, but must also involve efforts on many different levels; awareness, education, training, crisis response, and intervention. EMU’s proposed project is titled “SAFE Now: Stigma and Fear End Now” at Eastern Michigan University. The project will serve the entire student body of 23,000, along with targeted efforts toward our LGBT students, student veterans, and students in the Honors College. Aligning with the current University infrastructure, the project will expand on current in–person training for selected faculty and staff and add online gatekeeper training for students, faculty and staff. Additionally, EMU will create a “SAFE Now” social norms marketing campaign with the support from three student organizations: Active Minds, Student Wellness Advisory Board and the Student Leader Group, aimed at delivering sustainable messaging and programming about the importance of changing attitudes that focus on reducing stigma, fear and myths related to mental illness, suicide, and seeking care.

Along with the awareness campaign, educational activities will be expanded to include monthly offerings that will insure that messaging is ongoing, rather than in a designated week or month only. A student-driven and administratively-supported model to planning and implementing programs and events will allow students to take more ownership for this project and, in turn, deliver in a way that creates a comfortable environment for open conversation with our student population.

While EMU supports various initiatives that address mental health disorders within the student population, we have lacked a coordinated approach to share accurate, up-to-date information, and provide education and training to understand and increase help seeking behaviors and promote suicide prevention as a community responsibility. The goal of this project is to unify current efforts across the university that are successful, but somewhat disconnected, and build on those activities to create a university-wide suicide prevention and mental health promotion plan that includes training programs, education activities, awareness campaigns and crisis response. Measurable objectives include:

  1. Increase help-seeking behaviors among EMU students,
  2. Reduce the negative attitudes and myths about mental illness and suicide that are framed in stigma, fear and lack of accurate information,
  3. Increase the number of students, faculty and staff who are able to recognize and respond to students experiencing mental health distress, 
  4. Create a community network of students, faculty, and staff, along with campus organizations and departments, that work together to promote suicide prevention.