Northwestern State University of Louisiana

NSU Cares
Garrett Lee Smith Campus

The purpose of NSU Cares is to create a prevention-prepared campus community in which suicide completion becomes a “never event” at Northwestern State University. Aligned with the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (2012) and based on best practice recommendations within SAMHSA’s Best Practices Registry, the goals of the project focus on creating a sustainable infrastructure and safety net for students and a culture of caring, wellness, and hope. NSU Cares has four main goals: (1) Increase the connectedness of mental health services with other departments/agencies within the university setting and within the community in order to promote the message that suicide prevention is everyone’s responsibility, (2) To provide gatekeeper training to a significant portion of the campus community in order to recognize, approach, and refer students who are in distress, (3) To provide online training, outreach and support to both online and face-to-face students, faculty/staff, and families of students through educational seminars designed to educate participants on suicide, as well as other mental/behavioral health issues, reduce stigma, and encourage help-seeking, and (4) Increase help-seeking behavior among students by creating a culture of caring, wellness, and hope. Serving a predominantly rural population, NSU is located in the city of Natchitoches, Louisiana and is recognized as a minority serving institution (MSI). NSU is recognized for its distance learning program and offers 35 accredited online degree programs. Total university enrollment is slightly below 9000. Approximately 46% of students are enrolled in online programs; 42% of students are enrolled in courses on the main Natchitoches campus. Nearly half of NSU’s student body is made up of First Generation in College, Low Income, and/or Disabled Students (43.73%). Over a three year period the project seeks to fund QPR Gatekeeper Training Certification for 60 students enrolled in NSU’s Master of Arts Counseling Program and interested student leaders; it will also include provisions for three faculty/staff members to become Master Trainers to ensure continuity beyond the three year grant funding. These QPR Trainers will then provide gatekeeping training to NSU students, faculty/staff, and key members of the community. A comprehensive evaluation plan has been developed to assess the process, content, and impact of the NSU Cares project and to identify behavioral health disparities.