University of Alabama in Huntsville
The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) is a public high-technology research university serving approximately 7,600 graduate and undergraduate students located in Huntsville, Alabama. Huntsville is a military and technology influenced community which is home to Redstone Arsenal, NASA, and a major number of high-tech companies comprising our unique culture. UAH is a key participant in one of the nation’s major international centers for advanced technological research. Following a tragic shooting in 2010, the university, as a whole, became significantly more aware of mental health issues. Yet, trauma and grief also include defense mechanisms of denial, minimization, and rationalization which prevent the acknowledgement of problems and need for and acceptance of services. The Counseling Center of UAH has increased staffing and outreach to students and coordinating efforts with faculty to meet the mental health needs of students. Campus wide, universal, and integrated training to overcome stigma and promote acceptance of counseling and utilization of services is a primary objective of our suicide prevention program grant. First year students and under-represented students, minorities, veterans, international students, and those with disabilities are our target populations. The goals of the UAH Suicide Prevention Program are 1) to increase the number of students seen for mental health services by 10% through a comprehensive and total organization approach to gatekeeper training; 2) to improve our communication and processes internally through a Suicide Prevention Task Force; 3) to expand and improve services to our target population to be served under this project including first year students, and under-represented, minorities, veterans, international students, and those with disabilities; 4) to develop a comprehensive substance abuse/prevention program through the hiring of a Nationally Certified Addiction Counselor and networking with community resources; 5) to reduce stigma through training and campus events such as the anti-stigma “Hope Lives On” campaign, campus booths, and educational efforts; and 6) to promote the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Crisis Services of North Alabama (CSNA) HELPline through visual displays, web page postings, and campus wide announcements along with promotions to contract with CSNA for training and on-call services.