Northwestern reaches out to parents as a part of mental health initiative

Amy Li, Assistant Campus Editor

Northwestern is partnering with parents, families and students to promote emotional well-being and suicide prevention after a number of student deaths last academic year.

“Raising awareness about the resources and support available to community members is a key part of a public health approach to mental health and wellness,” University President Morton Schapiro said in a new release announcing the initiative.

The Division of Student Affairs and Counseling and Psychological Services are collaborating with other NU departments to ensure that students are aware of both internal and external resources available to them.

In the release, Schapiro and other administrators echoed their convocation messages earlier this month, saying that in addition to University resources, students need parents, families and the entire campus community to be alert of and in support of students who are visibly struggling.

Patricia Telles-Irvin, vice president for student affairs, addressed a letter to parents and families of undergraduates to discuss the plethora of mental health resources available to students as they begin the academic year.

“Parents and families are important partners as we promote student wellbeing, and our desire is always to be proactive in reaching our student community with prevention efforts,” Telles-Irvin said in the release.

The announcement comes amid growing student frustration over mental health resources. Students have made repeated calls over the years for additional funding for CAPS, which Schapiro said at convocation is being allocated an unspecified amount of increased money.

The University describes its student wellness framework as a “collaborative support network consisting of multiple interventions and trained staff,” Telles-Irvin wrote.

She said the framework is endorsed by the leading national agency in student-suicide prevention, The JED Foundation, whose JED Campus Program works with NU in efforts to combat campus issues like mental health, substance abuse and suicide prevention.

Students, Dean of Students Todd Adams added, play an important role in spotting signs of mental health problems for themselves and their peers.

While some students say more is needed, currently established resources include Question-Persuade-Refer, a campus suicide-prevention program, as well as a number of services provided by CAPS like “Let’s Talk,” in which CAPS staff hold office hours across campus for students to discuss whatever they want.

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