October 24, 2018

Student-Led Innovation in Campus Mental Health
Download a copy of the report.
Beyond Awareness: Student-Led Innovation in Campus Mental Health
Concerns about mental health in higher education have grown and gained attention in recent years. Since the 1990s, university and college counseling centers have been experiencing a shift in the needs of students seeking counseling services from developmental and informational needs to psychological problems. In the 2014 National Survey of College Counseling Centers, respondents reported that 52 percent of their clients had severe psychological problems, an increase from 44 percent in 2013. In a 2016 survey of students by the American College Health Association, 52.7 percent of students surveyed reported feeling that things were hopeless and 39.1 percent reported feeling so depressed that it was difficult to function during the past 12 months. Many colleges and universities struggle to meet the mental health needs of their students. For students, this can mean not knowing how to get help, asking for help and getting wait-listed for services, or receiving inadequate supports. Student leadership can make a difference in creating alternatives and supplements to traditional services, such as working with counselors or psychiatrists or attending group therapy.
With an understanding of the effectiveness of peer support, the influence of community, and the impact of the consumer voice, Mental Health America created its inaugural Collegiate Mental Health Innovation Council (CMHIC) in 2017. CMHIC is dedicated to discussing the latest issues students face when balancing higher education with mental health concerns and highlighting student-led innovation on campus that addresses these concerns. CMHIC consists of student leaders who have created programs or lead advocacy on campus that fills gaps in traditional mental health supports and services in their communities. The CMHIC 2018 summary report and program highlight, Beyond Awareness: Student-Led Innovation in Campus Mental Health, incorporates research, members' perspectives, and members' programs. The report highlights three topics that have the potential to make a large difference in college mental health:
  • Disability Supports: Student leaders can create education-based programs and skill-building supports for their peers, and students or faculty can lead courses for academic credit to allow students to prioritize their wellbeing. Students can also serve as navigators for the often confusing and challenging process of obtaining accommodations.
  • Peer Support: This is a critical part of engaging more students, providing support outside of hours spent in treatment, creating community, shifting demand from counseling services, and offering low to no cost options for students looking for help.
  • Technology: Technology can help students connect to existing professionals, support one another, and share information on wellbeing. 
Information about CMHIC members' programs are referenced throughout the report and all members' programs, including summaries and implementation strategies, are included as guides for implementation on other campuses.
Visit Mental Health America's website to read about their services and programs or to find help for you or someone you're concerned about. To learn more about the CMHIC and this year's new members, read " 10 Student Leaders Changing Mental Health on Campus."

Fentanyl Safety Recommendations
Print or download the safety recommendations.
Fentanyl Safety Recommendations for First Responders

Law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical services (EMS) providers, and other first responders are increasingly likely to encounter fentanyl and other synthetic opioids during the course of their daily activities, such as overdose calls, traffic stops, arrests, and searches. The proliferation of illicitly manufactured fentanyl, including fentanyl analogs and synthetic opioids, is having a profound impact on the health and safety of communities across the nation and presents new challenges for first responders. When responding to scenes where the presence of fentanyl is suspected, first responders must balance safety with mobility and efficiency.
To help first responders protect themselves when the presence of fentanyl is suspected or encountered, a federal interagency working group coordinated by the National Security Council developed the one-age resource, Fentanyl Safety Recommendations for First Responders (PDF), and a companion training video, Fentanyl: The Real Deal. Informed by expertise from the medical, public health, law enforcement, fire/EMS, and occupational safety and health disciplines, the science-based recommendations include actions first responders can take to protect themselves from exposure, when exposure occurs, and when they or their partners exhibit signs of opioid intoxication.
For additional resources on this topic, view the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's guidance,  Fentanyl: A Briefing Guide for First Responders (PDF), and fentanyl roll call video,  Fentanyl: A Real Threat to Law Enforcement.

Bias Crime Assessment Tool
Access the BCAT.
Bias Crime Assessment Tool from the Vera Institute of Justice
The Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) works to drive change and urgently build and improve justice systems that ensure fairness, promote safety, and strengthen communities. Vera is currently working on more than five dozen projects that address the causes and consequences of mass incarceration, racial disparities, and the loss of public trust in law enforcement, as well as working to address the unmet needs of the vulnerable, the marginalized, and those harmed by crime and violence.
This August, with funding from the U.S. Department of Justice, Vera published Bias Crime Assessment: A Tool and Guidelines for Law Enforcement and Concerned Communities (PDF). The Bias Crime Assessment Tool (BCAT) was designed to improve the reporting of hate incidents and crimes and is intended to be used in a wide variety of settings including schools/campuses, law enforcement, victim advocacy, community/civil rights advocacy, health care, or other social service agencies that may be responsible for identifying and responding to victims of hate.
The BCAT can be used whether or not the individual was a victim of a hate incident or crime, defined as any criminal offense motivated by bias, hostility, or prejudice against a protected class. Protected classes under federal law are disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, color, religion, sexual orientation, and in some states, political affiliation. The kinds of legally protected classes vary from state to state and, depending on jurisdiction, a crime may or may not be considered a hate crime.
The assessor begins with brief screening questions. If these are answered affirmatively, the assessor proceeds to Part 1. Part 1 collects information that first responders normally require including offender characteristics, details of the incident, witnesses or bystanders, identity markers, etc., and is considered a quick assessment. Part 2 probes more deeply asking for a victim narrative, inquiring about prior incidents and community concerns, discussing victim assistance, action plans, and is the portion that allows for follow-up and case management of the victim. Both Parts 1 and 2 are necessary to improve responses to hate crimes, not only for the victim but for the impact on the larger community.
The BCAT also contains helpful tips and guidelines about reducing fear for victims, developing trust between the victim and the assessor or first responder, understanding trauma, maintaining confidentiality, and other considerations. Adhering to these guidelines may make a significant difference in the information a victim is willing and able to provide in an interview. Awareness and sensitivity to a victim's needs, understanding that the victim may be suffering from trauma, building trust and asking appropriate questions all impact how confident the victim will feel in the process and will aid in the evidence that can be collected to advance prosecution and bias crime prevention efforts.
For additional information or related publications, please visit the National Institute of Justice website.

Professional Development Opportunities

Title: Event Security Planning for Public Safety Professionals (MGT 335)
Organization: Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium
Dates: November 14-15, 2018
Location: Oriskany, NY
Fee: Free
Title: Verbal De-Escalation and Crisis Communications
Organization: Public Agency Training Council
Dates: December 4-5, 2018
Location: South Kingstown, RI
Fee: Registration fee
Title: Stop the Hate Train the Trainer Program
Organization: Campus Pride
Dates: Contact to schedule
Location: Your campus
Fee: Registration fee

For additional trainings and events, access our searchable online calendar

Virtual Professional Development
Through our Virtual Professional Development initiative, you can access free, online educational opportunities
Campus Public Safety Online
Learn about our free webinar series, register for upcoming webinars, and view archived recordings on demand.
Emerging Issues Forum Reports
Download, print, and share findings from critical issues forums of campus public safety leaders, subject matter experts, and practitioners.

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This project was supported by Grant No. 2013-MU-BX-K011 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the US Department of Justice.
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