The “University of Wyoming’s Mental Health Awareness Training (UWMHAT)” Project will increase mental health awareness among University of Wyoming (UW) students by: 1) Implementing Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), 2) Establishing and enhancing linkages to campus and community mental health providers for effective referrals; and 3) Decreasing stigma related to seeking mental health services.
The population of focus is UW students. Demographics indicate the 10,294 UW students are primarily mono-lingual (English), and white/Caucasian (72%), with 6% Hispanic, 1% African-American/Black, 0.6% Native American, and 1% Asian. UW reports 51% female enrollment, and approximately 665 students per semester identify as veterans, National Guard members, or Reservists. Approximately 2,500 live in on-campus housing, with an estimated 7,500 living in the broader Laramie community (Enrollment Summary, Fall 2019). According to UW’s 2019 National College Health Assessment (NCHA), there is a critical need to better address UW student mental health. UW students reported experiencing the following in the past year: feeling exhausted not from exercise (83.1%), overwhelmed by all they had to do (87.4%), hopeless (52.4%), very lonely (61.4%), so depressed that it was difficult to function (40.9%), and seriously considering suicide (12%).
Our strategies to promote mental health include providing training, connecting people to appropriate resources, and decreasing stigma. We will train participants in the evidence-based MHFA program. Individuals identified to receive MHFA training include professionals, students, and caregivers that interact with UW students. Specifically, we will offer training to UW campus emergency first responders, UW law enforcement, faculty, Student Affairs professionals, parents of UW students, student-athletes, student veterans, Resident Assistants, fraternity and sorority members, student government leaders, and peer educators. MHFA will also be provided to individuals within the broader Laramie community that may interact with UW students off-campus, including emergency first responders, law enforcement, and social service providers.
Additionally, we will connect people to appropriate resources by publishing and disseminating a local resource guide of mental health services; and we will work to decrease stigma and promote mental health awareness through strategic messaging and a social marketing campaign. We will coordinate referrals to mental health services through the University Counseling Center.
We expect to train 75 individuals in MHFA during the first year of the grant, and 100 people per year in years 2-5, with a total of 475 individuals trained in MHFA throughout the lifetime of the grant. At the end of each grant year, we expect that 50% of participants in MHFA will report utilizing the information they learned to connect someone to appropriate resources; and by Year 5, 70% of UW students will report awareness of at least one mental health resource, and 70% will report favorable attitudes toward seeking mental health resources.