Project Connection

Pace University Counseling Center in New York City has been awarded by the New York State Office of Mental Health New York City Field Office $19,000 for Project Connection: This project addresses cultural issues associated with suicide risk and the stigma related to seeking effective mental health services by Latina and Asian female students at Pace and in New York City. The grant will enable Pace to enhance and expand current campus suicide prevention efforts through the creation of effective peer-to-peer support and referral relationships. The goal of the proposed Project Connection is to create a structured Peer-to-Peer program that facilitates outreach and effective intervention with female students of Asian and Latina heritage who are experiencing suicidal thoughts. These student groups are targeted as research has demonstrated that female adolescents of both backgrounds are increasingly likely to experience depression and thoughts of suicide. As these students are less likely to seek formal counseling and, instead, tend to seek out peers for advice and commiseration when they are feeling overwhelmed and depressed, there is a strong need to foster effective communication and support between distressed students and peers who can be supportive role models for seeking effective mental health interventions. Through Project Connection, peer leaders and groups will be identified and activities will be developed that will allow these student leaders to perform effective outreach with students that is designed to minimize culturally-specific stigma associated with traditional mental health counseling. Once the project is running feedback will be obtained and then the project will be disseminated to other colleges and universities in New York City through the Metropolitan Counseling Center Conference and outreach to the CUNY system. The proposed project is consistent with the ongoing goals of the Pace University Counseling Center to lower the incidence of suicide on our campus and to create a support network of culturally-informed peers, staff, and providers that can effectively assist students experiencing a psychological crisis.