MASSACHUSETTS: Colleges work to prevent suicide and fight stigma around mental health on campus

July 10, 2015

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News


Campus mental health centers serve, on average, about 10 percent of the student body, although the rate of usage tends to be higher at smaller institutions than at larger ones. The Globe reached out to several Massachusetts schools to find out how they are trying to meet students’ mental health needs. Countering the stigma associated with seeking care is a priority for many programs. Dori Hutchinson, director of services at Boston University’s Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, explained that “Part of what we’re doing in our suicide prevention efforts on campuses is that we’re trying to promote this idea that help-seeking is a positive adult behavior.” Related to this is coaching students, as Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s Student Support Network does, to address their peers directly when they think someone might be troubled. At the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, said Harry Rockland-Miller, director of the school’s Center for Counseling and Psychological Health, a “student of concern committee” takes a proactive approach. “Every Monday morning we have a weekend review meeting. What happened over the weekend? And how… can we support students who are displaying some level of distress? We want to step in as early in the continuum as we can.”

Spark Extra! To bring a preventive approach to mental health services on your campus, read A Guide to Campus Mental Health Action Planning.