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Syracuse University Counseling Center’s national leadership in suicide prevention earns best practice designation
Syracuse University Counseling Center’s national leadership in suicide prevention earns best practice designationJanuary 22, 2008Matthew R. Snydermrsnyder@syr.edu
Syracuse University’s Counseling Center has been recognized as a national standard of best practice for its program “Campus Connect: A Suicide Prevention Training for Gatekeepers.” Campus Connect is the Counseling Center’s initiative to train faculty, staff and other non-clinicians to identify and appropriately refer students who are suffering from a mental health crisis.
The recognition comes in the form of Campus Connect’s listing in the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC)/American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) Best Practices Registry for Suicide Prevention, a nationally prominent organization that guides universities, hospitals, school systems, nonprofit organizations, governments and other entities in their suicide prevention strategies. The registry is funded by a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Campus Connect is one of only six programs in its section, which relates to specific efforts to address SPRC’s National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. Already, more than 30 other colleges and universities have contacted SU for advice on setting up similar programs.
“This achievement is a proud example of how the Counseling Center staff realize Scholarship in Action’s commitment to excellence. The knowledge created here at Syracuse University will benefit college students across the country as institutions of higher learning connect with us to find out more about our approach,” says Rebecca S. Dayton, Counseling Center director. “More important, this recognition helps us connect with students right here at Syracuse University, serving to reassure them that their university can provide state-of-the-art support to students in crisis.”
The SPRC/AFSP designation followed an intensive review of Campus Connect by a panel of suicide prevention experts, who assessed the program for its accuracy, safety, likelihood of meeting goals and objectives, and adherence to prevention program guidelines. Campus Connect was designed by Cory Wallack, staff therapist, in collaboration with Dayton; Susan Pasco, assistant director; and Mitch Sartin, staff therapist, who, along with the Counseling Center’s other licensed clinicians, make free mental health services available to full-time SU students. The Counseling Center is a principal unit of the Division of Student Affairs. The best practice recognition is one of the goals set forth in the Division of Student Affairs Strategic Plan 2007-2012; the Counseling Center has achieved this goal four years ahead of schedule.
SPRC’s recognition follows on the heels of a successful 2006 re-accreditation effort with the International Association of Counseling Services (IACS), which signified that the Counseling Center meets nationally recognized standards for mental health care. Fewer than 200 universities worldwide meet this standard. In its review, the IACS University and College Counseling Centers Board of Accreditation cited the Counseling Center for its active involvement in the broader University community, connections with important campus units, excellent staff and faculty training program, and strong support from the administration.
The Counseling Center was also honored in March 2007 with a Silver Excellence Award in the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators Excellence Award Program, marking it as one of the nation’s top two programs in the Health, Wellness, and Counseling category. Additionally, Dayton was one of just 14 professionals nationwide to be chosen for the inaugural, 2006 class of trainers to pilot the American Association of Suicidology /Suicide Prevention Resource Center’s curriculum, “Assessing and Managing Suicide Risk.” The curriculum’s early success has led to its expansion, and Pasco has also been selected to serve in the role of trainer. Dayton and the Counseling Center are also directing a $225,000 grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to implement and assess programs that address the increasing stress and mental health problems facing college students.
Specific services offered by the Counseling Center include individual short-term counseling; 24-hour, on-call mental health emergency coverage; group counseling sessions; consultation to faculty, staff and parents; and referrals to other community and University mental health services. For more information, visit http://counselingcenter.syr.edu.