Campus uses social media to promote mental health

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> STARKVILLE, Miss.–Because students in higher education need access to mental health resources, Mississippi State University’s Connection Project is surveying students to determine what they know about available assistance.
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> “Suicide is the second leading cause of death for college-aged individuals,” said Michael Nadorff, co-director for the MSU Connection Project, funded by the three-year, $304,000 Garrett Lee Smith Campus Suicide Prevention Grant. “It’s important that people realize that it’s happening, but it can be prevented. There is help available, and there is always hope.
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> “Sometimes, you just get to college and it’s tough to make new, different friends; you might feel lonely or miss Mom’s cooking,” the assistant professor of psychology said. “When that happens, you should just get checked out.”
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> Information to contact the MSU Student Counseling Center and MSU Sexual Assault Services, as well as national resources like the National Crisis Hotline, is available at www.msstateconnection.com.
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> In 2013, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration awarded the grant, implemented on-campus as the MSU Connection Project.
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> During the first year of the grant, project representatives trained more than 500 people to recognize “at-risk” warning signs for people who might be considering suicide.
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> In recognition of the successful campus and community outreach effort, SAMHSA selected MSU, the sole grantee of their national cohort, to survey students about their knowledge of mental health resources both before and after what Nadorff termed “a social media blitz.”
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> Researchers and mental health professionals recently completed the first round of surveys and have recently launched a blitz on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine and Youtube, Nadorff said. He encouraged the general public to visit www.msstateconnection.com to link to respective sites, view pictures, videos and/or other information about the mental health resources available at MSU.
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> “Many college students are unaware of the resources they have for mental health, and many psychology students don’t even know about the counseling center,” said E. Samuel Winer, grant co-director and assistant professor of psychology. “This social media blitz offers an exciting way to make them aware that campus resources are easily available and how to get connected to those resources.
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> “We also want to encourage students through these resources, and to let them know that sometimes the most courageous thing that a person can do is to ask for help.”
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> After the blitz, project representatives will follow up with the students who participated in the first round of surveys. The second survey should determine whether the student body knows more about available resources following the social media advertising campaign.
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> “The emphasis is on getting students connected to the resources,” Winer said. “We are learning to speak their language so we can get this important information across to them. We think social media is one way how we can connect with the students.”
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> For more about the MSU psychology department, visit www.psychology.msstate.edu.
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> Complete details about MSU are found at www.msstate.edu, facebook.com/msstate, Instagram.com/msstate or twitter.com/msstate.