MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Members of the MTSU campus community soon will be trained in how to notice and respond to mental health and addiction challenges commonly experienced by youth in higher education settings.
Thanks to a recently secured $500,000 federal grant by the MTSU Center for Health and Human Services, students, faculty and staff will have an opportunity to receive certification through Mental Health First Aid for Higher Education, an evidence-based curriculum that will train them to know how to handle a range of possibilities that commonly occur as a person experiences symptoms of mental illness.
Training, which was first provided to the campus community in 2019-2021, will include topics such as depression, anxiety, suicidal ideations, trauma, non-suicidal self-harm, psychosis and substance use and misuse, said Cynthia Chafin, Center for Health and Human Services director and principal investigator, or PI, for the project.
CHHS has received funding to relaunch the certification effort for a four-year period beginning this month. When the project is fully relaunched, multiple workshops, providing two-year certifications to MTSU students, staff and faculty, will take place each month with a goal of reaching 1,120 members over the four-year period with approximately seven workshops offered per quarter.
Each workshop lasts eight hours and is provided free of charge. MTSU CHHS previously piloted this project in 2019 through an earlier grant and successfully trained over 1,100 students, faculty and staff, with over 1,300 referrals made over a three-year period and “with demonstrated reduction of stigma for those participating in the program,” according to CHHS.
The American College Health Association reports that 1 in 5 university students is affected with anxiety or depression.
Chafin notes that the 2019-2021 pilot project was well received on campus and knows the difference that education and skills training can make along with programming that creates cultural shifts in perception of mental illness.
For more information on MTSU’s Center for Health and Human Services and the Mental Health First Aid grant activities, email Chafin at Cynthia.Chafin@mtsu.edu or visit the center’s website at https://www.mtsu.edu/chhs/MentalHealthFirsAid.php. To learn more about Mental Health First Aid, go to https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/.