Northwestern to evaluate drug abuse prevention efforts

Sophia Bollag, Web Editor

Northwestern will evaluate its substance abuse prevention efforts as part of its involvement with a newly rebranded mental health initiative, Counseling and Psychological Services executive director John Dunkle said.

The Jed and Clinton Health Matters Campus Program on Wednesday released an official list of more than 50 schools, including NU, that have signed on to the program.

To begin the program, universities will conduct a self-assessment of their existing mental health and substance abuse prevention tactics. The program will provide participating universities with customized feedback based on their evaluations.

The program is an updated version of the JedCampus program, which NU was already working with, and helps colleges and universities improve mental health resources. The program has expanded to include a focus on controlling substance abuse on college campuses, Dunkle said.

“We had to rethink some things because they redid the survey and added some questions,” Dunkle said. “My goal is to have the survey completed by the end of the Fall Quarter.”

The program is a partnership of The Jed Foundation, an organization that promotes mental health and suicide prevention on college campuses, and the Clinton Foundation, a philanthropic organization founded by former President Bill Clinton and his family.

The Jed Foundation announced its partnership with the Clinton Foundation to expand the program in January. The program previously focused on mental health and suicide prevention, but with the involvement of the Clinton Foundation, expanded to also include substance abuse prevention.

“The Clinton Foundation had a very particular interest in substance abuse issues,” Dunkle said. “A lot of times suicides involve alcohol or other drugs so it’s important to consider those issues as well when you’re looking at this comprehensively.”

The Campus Coalition on Mental Health, a group organized last year that includes representatives from CAPS, Associated Student Government and student groups focused on mental health, began to work with The Jed Foundation’s guidelines to improve mental health programming on campus last year, McCormick senior Alex Van Atta said.

Van Atta, who served on the coalition last year as part of his role as ASG executive vice president, said the coalition has already started making changes based on the guidelines, such as the expansion of the Question-Persuade-Refer suicide prevention training program on campus last academic year.

ASG student life vice president Chris Harlow, who will serve on the coalition this year, said he anticipates the new program will provide “vital” support in helping the coalition improve mental health resources on campus.

“There’s still a gap in the services and the way that we approach well-being,” Harlow, a SESP junior, said. “The administration has a long way to go, I think, and so I’m ready for the Jed Foundation to come in and evaluate.”

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