RESPOND aims to provide mental health support training on campus

The program is currently available to faculty, staff and graduate students.

The Counseling Center has launched RESPOND, a new program to train faculty, staff and students to recognize and support people with mental illness.

RESPOND is an eight-hour course “designed specifically for university and college campuses,” said Christy Hutton, the programming and communications coordinator for the Counseling Center. She said the program is geared around supporting students, but also helps participants support colleagues and others.

RESPOND stands for the seven steps the program outlines: Recognize signs and symptoms; Empathize; Share concerns; Pose open questions; Offer hope; Navigate resources; and Do self-care.

Hutton said the program is currently only open to faculty, staff and graduate students in research or teaching assistantships, because training these groups is a priority.

The Counseling Center has been in talks with student groups to discuss training undergraduates in the future, she said.

“We’re just in the beginning phase,” Hutton said.

According to a 2013 study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, about one in five young adults suffer from a diagnosable mental illness. However, Hutton said, only 29 percent of MU students are aware of campus mental health services.

Counseling Center Director David Wallace said the focus of RESPOND is to educate a large number of people to recognize those with mental health issues and direct serious cases to campus resources like the Counseling Center.

“(We want to) set up a culture where people can talk about mental health the way they talk about football,” he said. “My hope is that we could change the headlines away from ‘college students struggling’ to ‘college students learning new ways to cope.’”

Those who are eligible and interested in the program can sign up on its website.

The program is currently offering five dates for free 8-hour workshops: Dec. 19, Jan. 13, 2015, May 18, and July 28. Applications will close one week before each workshop takes place.

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