by Elizabeth Stone
The University of West Georgia recently announced it has been awarded the JedCampus Seal from The Jed Foundation, a leading organization working to promote emotional health and prevent suicide among college and university students. The Seal recognizes schools that exhibit comprehensive mental health promotion and suicide prevention programming on campus. The Seal is part of the Foundation’s JedCampus program, the first nationwide program to facilitate a school’s ability to assess and enhance their mental health support system from a campus-wide perspective.
“West Georgia has always been known as a leader in the University System in the areas of counseling and mental health services,” says Dr. Scot Lingrell, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management. “This recognition broadens that scope and further confirms the professionalism and dedication of our counselors and health services staff who provide great service to students every day.”
As part of the process to earn the Seal, UWG took a voluntary, online self-assessment reviewing their campus mental health and suicide prevention programming. The Jed Foundation then compared the school’s responses to the recommended practices outlined in The Comprehensive Approach to Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention on College and University Campuses developed by The Jed Foundation and Suicide Prevention Resource Center. As part of this process, the University of West Georgia received confidential feedback designed to help enhance its programming and resources. The Seal is valid for two years.
“UWG’s Counseling and Career Development Center is proud to be among the first universities in the nation to be recognized as a JedCampus seal recipient,” says Dr. Lisa Adams, director of the Counseling and Career Development Center. “The seal confirms our staff's diligent work in prevention of suicide and mental health awareness among students.”
The Counseling and Career Development Center at UWG provides a wide range of services free of charge to enrolled students in the areas of counseling, career counseling and accessibility services. The CCD staff includes licensed professional counselors, on call 24 hours each day, that specialize in working with college students and provide opportunities for students to participate in confidential individual counseling, academic counseling, substance abuse counseling, psychotherapy and group counseling on topics such as stress reduction and conflict resolution. In addition to 24-hour crisis response, the clinical leadership at the CCD serves on the Campus Intervention Team, which responds to students in distress.
“In the counseling area, which the JedCampus Seal addresses, we provide psychoeducation through our outreach program ‘Prevent@UWG,’” adds Dr. Adams. “This program provides classroom education, training for faculty, staff and students, and fun activities to promote mental health, such as Furry Friends for Finals. Last year we engaged students in over 500 programs all over campus. The goal of Prevent@UWG is to give students information and tools, to seek help for themselves or a friend before there are serious issues.”
UWG also offers one of the first online counseling programs in the country, providing students who are unable to come to campus with an opportunity to participate in individual or group counseling. The CCD provides a program specifically designed for student athletes as well to address the demands of performance on and off the field. Additionally, the CCD serves as a clinical training site, offering internships in counseling for masters and doctoral students and also providing certified training for faculty, staff and students in the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, Strengths Quest and the Strong Interest Inventory fostering self awareness and growth in individuals and teams. The Counseling and Career Development Center partners with Health Services, Health Education, University Police and the Dean of Student's office to the foster the academic, social and emotional success of UWG's students.
“We are thrilled to be able to announce the first schools in the nation to receive the JedCampus Seal. Schools like the University of West Georgia have shown they employ a comprehensive, community-based approach to mental health care which will result in the identification of and care for more at-risk students,” says John MacPhee, executive director of The Jed Foundation. “We believe that the implementation of a campus-wide approach to mental health promotion will lead to safer, healthier campuses, and possibly greater student retention.”
The Jed Foundation only publicly recognizes those schools awarded the Seal. Names, survey responses and feedback reports of those schools that do not receive a Seal are confidential. If the self-assessment survey revealed gaps in programming, colleges and universities were invited to work closely with The Jed Foundation to address them. Those schools can reapply for the JedCampus Seal after one year.
Leading higher education and mental health professional organizations including the American College Counseling Association, American College Health Association, National Council on Community Behavioral Healthcare, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness, among others, have provided statements of support for the JedCampus initiative. For more information on JedCampus and UWG’s Counseling and Career Development Center, please visit www.jedcampus.org or www.westga.edu/studentdev/.