Mental Health Literacy and Crisis Intervention Project Receives $500K HHS Grant

Mental Health Literacy and Crisis Intervention Project Receives $500K HHS Grant

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LONG ISLAND CITY, NY (February 08, 2023) — A 2022 study conducted by Gallup and Lumina Foundation found that three-fourths of students in bachelor’s programs and two-thirds of adults seeking associate degrees have considered taking a break from college due to emotional stress.

Mental health and wellness are critical to ensure the academic success of students in higher education. Earlier this year, Regina Varin-Mignano, PhD, LCSW-R, manager of Health and Wellness Education and Grant Development; and Frank LaTerra-Bellino, director of LaGuardia’s Wellness Center, were awarded a four-year grant of $500,000 for their “Mental Health Literacy & Crisis Intervention” Project. The grant was awarded by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The purpose of the project is to expand and strengthen the “safety net” for those at risk for mental health concerns by teaching how to effectively intervene and/or de-escalate a mental health related crisis. Utilizing three evidence-based trainings, faculty, staff, and students at LaGuardia Community College will learn how to identify, understand, and respond to signs of someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis, including suicide.

The three evidence-based trainings to be used as the project’s main strategy of teaching mental health distress and crisis intervention are: Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), QPR (Question. Persuade. Refer.), and CPI Nonviolent Crisis Intervention Training. Trainees will include faculty, staff, and students at LaGuardia Community College (LAGCC) with a special focus on high-risk populations, including LGBTQIA students, students with disabilities, international and culturally diverse students, African-American students, and student veterans.

“The overall goals of the LaGuardia Mental Health Literacy & Crisis Intervention Project are to increase awareness of mental health, crisis intervention, and suicide prevention in the LAGCC and outside community through evidence-based practice trainings of faculty, staff, and students,” Varin-Mignano said. “We also want to decrease stigma among high-risk and non-English speaking populations on campus; train faculty and key staff, including Wellness Counselors and LAGCC public safety in CPI Nonviolent Crisis Intervention Training.”

LaTerra-Bellino said the project also aims to connect with on- and off-campus resources that can assist in providing specialized services and resources to students, including clinical support and accommodations.

“We hope to increase regional mental health services and capacity and hopefully reduce wait times and strengthen regional collaboration and cooperation,” LaTerra-Bellino said.

The research team plans include training 500 key faculty and staff (100 per year), such as Wellness Center counselors, Human Services faculty, and public safety, and 500 students (100 per year) in evidence- based, best practice trainings, including MHFA, QPR, and CPI Nonviolent Crisis Intervention Training over the lifetime of the project. The team will also work in collaboration with on- and off campus resources and facilities that can aid in assisting students with clinical support and additional resources that may not be available within the Wellness Center, including the Office for Students with Disabilities and the Student Veteran Resource Center on-campus and the Northwell Behavioral College Partnership program, Mount Sinai SAVI program, Safe Horizon, and the Floating Hospital.

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LaGuardia Community College (LAGCC), located in Long Island City, Queens, educates thousands of New Yorkers annually through degree, certificate, and continuing education programs. LaGuardia is a national voice on behalf of community colleges, where half of all U.S. college students study. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), the College reflects the legacy of our namesake, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, the former NYC mayor beloved for his championing the underserved. Since our doors opened in 1971, our programs regularly become national models for pushing boundaries to give people of all backgrounds access to a high quality, affordable college education.


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