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Three-year grant to fund project addressing behavioral health needs of UNC students

UNC’s School of Social Work has been awarded a $102,000 grant to help address the unrecognized and untreated behavioral health conditions of UNC students and to equip the campus community with the information and skills needed to connect students, especially those at risk of suicide or depression, to appropriate support.

The three-year award from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Garrett Lee Smith Campus Suicide Prevention Grant will fund the “Carolina Comprehensive Approach to Suicide Prevention.” The School’s Behavioral Health Springboard (BHS) will work closely with UNC’s Counseling and Psychological Services, Student Wellness, Campus Health, Athletics Department, and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs to implement the project.

The Carolina Comprehensive Approach to Suicide Prevention has four primary goals:

  • Enhance mental health services for UNC students, including those at risk for suicide, depression, serious mental illness, and/or substance use disorders that can lead to school failure
  • Prevent mental and substance use disorders that may, or could, emerge during college enrollment
  • Promote student help-seeking behavior and reduce negative public attitudes among the UNC community and
  • Improve the identification and treatment of at-risk UNC students so they can successfully complete their studies.

The project complements the work the School has already been doing through Mental Health First Aid training, a nationally recognized program designed to decrease stigma and increase conversation about mental illness and substance use disorders, said Tara Bohley, program director for BHS. Over the past few years, BHS has trained more than 1,000 University faculty, staff and students through Mental Health First Aid.

With the latest grant, the School will be able to continue this work and to focus more specifically on the life and death importance of having a comprehensive approach to suicide, Bohley added.

“There is not one answer to the problem of suicide,” she said. “Evidence clearly shows that the problem has to be addressed comprehensively, including identification, prevention, treatment and postvention.”