UT Knoxville Counseling Center Awarded Grant for Suicide Prevention Efforts

KNOXVILLE — The Counseling Center at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has received funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) through the organization’s Campus Suicide Prevention Grants Program. The program assists colleges and universities in their efforts to prevent suicide and enhance mental health services for students in crisis.

The Counseling Center, in partnership with the university’s counseling psychology department and the Safety, Environment and Education (SEE) Center, will receive $99,999 of the $6.3 million being awarded by SAMHSA to 22 universities across the country. The funds will be used to enhance the campus’ VolAware initiative.

VolAware began in 2006 as a two-day event, sponsored by the SEE Center, targeting mental health awareness, suicide prevention and wellness. Now a yearlong initiative, VolAware aims to provide the campus community with skills to intervene when someone they know is in distress. It seeks to decrease the stigma of mental health issues, promote emotional well-being, provide prevention and early intervention of mental health problems and enhance education, awareness and community collaboration. VolAware is highlighted each October with a two-day celebration and street fair. This year’s event takes place Oct. 6-7.

“The grant will help improve mental health at UT in many ways,” said Marci Burroughs, director of clinical services for the Counseling Center. “It will increase the campus community’s ability to recognize when someone is in distress and to know how to make appropriate and timely referrals for the individual.”

For more information on VolAware, visit http://volaware.utk.edu.

The Campus Suicide Prevention Grant program provides individual grantees with up to $100,000 per year for up to three years. Annual continuation awards depend on the availability of funds, the grantee’s progress in meeting project goals and objectives and timely submission of required data and reports.

Other institutions receiving Campus Suicide Prevention Grants include Boston University, Michigan State University, Emory University and East Tennessee State University. The grants can fund efforts such as developing training programs for students and campus personnel, creating on-campus networks, developing and implementing educational seminars, preparing informational materials, preparing educational materials for families and promoting linkages to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which provides around-the-clock support for individuals in need. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK.

“Nearly a quarter of a million students in colleges and universities each year attempt suicide,” said SAMHSA Acting Administrator Eric Broderick. “This national tragedy demands a strong pro-active approach — reaching out to all those at risk with information and services that give real help and hope.”

C O N T A C T :

Connie Briscoe, Project Director, UT Counseling Center (865-974-2196, briscoe@utk.edu)

Rebekah Winkler, (865-974-8304, rwinkler@utk.edu)

Amy Blakely, (865-974-5034, ablakely@utk.edu)

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