A federal grant of nearly $280,000 over the course of three years will strengthen the college’s mental health crisis counseling capabilities.

The grant from Garrett Lee Smith Campus Suicide Prevention program through the Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in large part supports training campus members how to teach and use QPR -- Question, Persuade and Refer -- with those trainers then helping others learn the strategies.

The goal of QPR is to reduce suicidal behaviors and save lives by providing innovative, practical and proven suicide prevention training. The program reflects a belief that quality education empowers all people, regardless of background, to make a positive difference in the life of someone they know.

“It’s great because we have a pretty broad representation of trainers,” said Katherine Wolfe-Lyga, director of SUNY Oswego’s Counseling Services Center, which secured and spearheads implementation of the grant. 

As of late October, 11 trainers had completed the process, with another 15 in the pipeline to be trained, with representation including faculty in the School of Education, Residence Life and Housing staff and others.

“We’re really trying to ensure that we can reach everywhere,” Wolfe-Lyga said, noting the grant “makes it more accessible for more people.”

To date, 166 students, faculty and staff have completed training with another 55 expected to complete training soon. Getting trained in QPR is a 90-minute session, while becoming certified to administer training is a 10-hour course.

The training provides a script to follow and ways to connect people to resources when somebody has identified a student in crisis. In addition to suicidal tendencies, this can include mental health or substance abuse dysfunction.

“It’s giving people the confidence and equipping them to have these hard conversations with somebody,” Wolfe-Lyga said. “We have to be there to support them in a useful way.”

The grant also allows the college to increase the coordination of efforts between emergency community resources and SUNY Oswego to reduce the stigma and trauma experienced as a result of a mental health emergency.

Moreover, the grant supports creating a culture of wellness on campus, where students, faculty and staff are prepared to respond to mental health emergencies using evidence-based interventions.

For more information on SUNY Oswego’s mental health services, visit the Counseling Services Center’s website.