WORCESTER, Mass. – Worcester Polytechnic Institute's (WPI) Student Development and Counseling Center (SDCC) has been awarded a three-year, $220,000 federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for mental health promotion and suicide prevention. The funding will allow the SDCC to embark on an education and training program for WPI faculty, staff, and students to promote awareness of warning signs of distress and enhance skills associated with providing immediate support and referral to local resources.
Charles Morse, director of the SDCC and the grant's principal investigator, will oversee the initiative. Adam Gray has been hired as outreach coordinator and will manage the program's implementation, including the creation and development of the student support network (SSN) on campus. The SSN will provide a forum for both training and support for student initiatives directed at promoting mental health and well-being on campus.
Factors leading students to feel stress may include family and personal relationships, search for a post-college job, and striving for academic and athletic success. Nationally, about 50 percent of students acknowledge that at least at one point in the previous year they were "so depressed it was difficult to function," says Morse. "We also know that a sense of connection to others in a community enhances prevention of stress and promotes a sense a well being. This grant will fund an effort to identify, train, and support the WPI faculty and staff members who have regular contact with students, and to help them better recognize signs of significant student distress, and improve their skills and confidence in reaching out in a supportive manner to these students."
The SDCC provides educational programming and training, counseling, referral, and crisis intervention services to WPI students. It focuses on assisting students as they go through the process of becoming adults so they may achieve greater levels of personal, academic, and professional success, and helping students become aware of, and effective in, their roles, relationships, and responsibilities.