SAMSHA Grant-Project OPEN

Pace University’s Counseling Center in New York is the recipient of a $220,000 suicide prevention grant for the academic years 2008 - 2011. The award was provided by SAMSHA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Offered in response to discrimination and hate crimes, Project OPEN has enabled Pace to enhance and expand campus suicide prevention efforts through the integration of diversity-informed materials into educational trainings and outreach. This project addresses cultural issues associated with suicide risk and the stigma related to seeking effective mental health services by minority students at Pace and in New York City. Currently, the Pace Counseling Center provides a wide range of services to meet the mental health needs of its students.  The Center has developed expertise in addressing the academic, professional, and psychological concerns of a student population that is rich in cultural, ethnic, and identity diversity. In 2006, the Pace community was impacted by hate crimes aimed at our Muslim student community.  These hateful acts induced anxiety, anger, and depression among students of diverse cultural backgrounds, thereby increasing known risk factors for suicide within our student population. Pace University was awarded the three-year federal grant from SAMHSA of $73,467 per year to incorporate known risk factors of suicide associated with minority students and cultural stigma that may prevent such students from seeking help.  

The goals of the proposed Project OPEN (Outreach, Prevention, and Emergency Network) are to: (1) Develop a Multicultural Understanding in Preventing Suicide Kit that will facilitate effective crisis and suicide intervention with students from diverse cultural, identity, and ability backgrounds.  This kit was integrated into gatekeeper trainings with Pace faculty and staff and was utilized in student orientations.  (2) Develop a network of liaison contacts with the mental health and alcohol/drug treatment units of New York area hospitals thereby creating a multi-tiered treatment system for Pace students that will facilitate appropriate admissions and effective discharge-planning.  (3)  Develop multi-cultural educational seminars to be conducted at a New York area conference for colleges and universities.  These trainings address how hatred and discrimination, combined with culture-related stigma regarding utilization of mental health services, can contribute to an increased risk of suicide in minority students.  (4) Advertise and integrate the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline information into orientation and outreach with Pace University students, faculty, and staff.  (5) Develop an informational internet-based program for parents and family that will facilitate recognition of effective help-seeking behavior, the signs and symptoms of psychological distress and suicidal contemplation, and the impact of culture-related stigma on preventing effective utilization of mental health services.

Staff, faculty, and students who are interested in participating in the grant should contact the Counseling Center in New York at 212.346.1526.