When students, especially freshmen, struggle with mental health, it’s often their Residential Advisors who are the first line of help.
By training RAs on how to identify students who may be suffering from a psychological crisis, the University hopes to broaden access to mental and physical health care.
RAs undergo a day-long training program before the beginning of each semester, consisting of back-to-back presentations organized by Counseling and Psychological Services on issues related to eating disorders, depression and other common mental and physical conditions that afflict college-aged students. The purpose of this roughly eight-hour day of presentations is to inform RAs on the issues that their residents may be suffering from and to help them identify a student in need.
CAPS created the I CARE program in the spring of 2014 to provide students and faculty with the training necessary to identify a student who may be suffering from a mental illness. The program, which designates certain faculty members as mental wellness counselors, also seeks to reduce the stigma attached to mental illness and inform students of the resources at their disposal. The ultimate goal of I CARE training is to get rid of the cultural and informational barriers that may come between students and CAPS.
As is demonstrated by the report released last year by the Task Force on Student Psychological Health and Welfare in response to six student deaths, addressing mental health on campus has been an ongoing process for the University.
“We adjust all programs each year based upon feedback from the staff and what trends we may have witnessed from the preceding year in terms of student mental and physical well-being,” said Martin Redman, the executive director of College Houses and Academic Services.
The I CARE program addresses growing pressure on the University to provide mental health care in increasingly innovative and effective ways. RAs are trained to identify students who might be suffering from a mental illness and are encouraged provide emotional support. According to Redman, “we provide personal support and guidance to residents, refer many students to CAPS and train the RA/GA staff on how to provide guidance to residents and to deal with mental health emergencies.”
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