Donnelly College works with minority students to reduce mental health stigma

Students were led through mental health discussions via text prompts in Text Talk Act event that took place April 20.

On April 20, Donnelly College hosted its first-ever Text, Talk, Act event. Groups of students gathered around a cell phone and were guided by text to participate in a conversation about mental health. We were pleased with the turnout: 53 students attended, which is about one-eighth of the entire school!

The event was part of an ongoing effort on the part of Donnelly to reduce the stigma attached to mental health issues.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) cites 64 percent of students who stopped attending college within the past five years did so for mental health-related reasons, with stigma being the number one reason college students do not seek help from a mental health professional for said issues.

NAMI further states minorities, which make up 90 percent of Donnelly’s student body, are even less likely to use mental health services.

With the help of funding from a federal SAMHSA grant and HCF, the college was able to bring in speakers, print flyers, offer subscriptions to newsletters and provide trainings and programs geared toward increasing awareness and support for those in need of services.

Prior to this initiative, the majority of clients coming to the Counseling Center came in for single crisis visits. Since the implementation of these programs, not only have we seen a steady increase in those using counseling services, but also a significant increase in repeat clients attending on a regular basis.

Many of the direct service staff, full-time faculty, and student leaders have taken advantage of QPR Institute’s Question, Persuade and Refer training, also made possible through SAMHSA funding. Because of this training and an early alert system put into place to help identify students who are struggling, the Donnelly Community is now better prepared to help those in crisis.

Students are seeing counseling as a resource and are taking advantage of services offered and they are recommending the Center to their friends.

After the Text, Talk, Act event, one student stopped in and asked for us to repeat the event again this year because she felt it helped people to understand those with mental health issues are students, family members, and people rather than just their diagnosis.

Donnelly is committed to continuing its quest to promote counseling as a wellness activity. By helping students to access much needed healthy living and mental health services we help them to succeed in their quest for higher education.

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HCF's Local Health Buzz Blog aims to discuss health and health policy issues that impact the uninsured and underserved in our service area. To submit a blog, please contact HCF Communications Officers, Jennifer Sykes, at jsykes@hcfgkc.org.

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