Longwood University was recently awarded three grants totaling nearly $350,000 for a “triangle of support” for mental health and well-being and to increase visibility of resources to students. These important efforts, all of which are supported by federal funding, are led by Longwood’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), the Longwood Recovers program, and the Greenwood Library.
The CAPS project, led by Dr. Maureen Walls-McKay, Dean of Well-Being, will support the hiring of a new psychologist with expertise in trauma. In addition to offering new well-being clinics for students, CAPS will expand services to students through the introduction of ProtoCall+, a 24/7 telehealth service, and WellTrack, a mobile app that includes mental health resources.
“One of the things that we have found is the demand on our staff responding to mental health needs and concerns seems to be more prevalent after the sun goes down,” said Dr. Tim Pierson, Longwood’s Vice President for Student Affairs. “ProtoCall+ and WellTrack provide students with 24/7 immediate access to the resources needed to help with what they are dealing with.”
The grant awarded to the Greenwood Library will fund well-being programs year-round, which will support students’ becoming more proactive in their well-being needs. Research Services Librarian Natalie Browning leads the project, entitled “Well-Being in the Heart of Campus: Community Connections at Greenwood,” that will provide stress management; lifelong skills workshops focused on journaling, gardening and knitting; speaker events; and a mental health town hall. Importantly, those programs not limited to students: faculty, staff and Prince Edward County community members are welcome.
The Longwood Recovers program, led by Cheryl Steele, Dean of Student Engagement, and Ashley Green, Graduate Assistant, facilitates a portfolio of activities to support students in recovery from addiction-related issues or exploring recovery. In the fall semester, the Longwood Recovers project kicked off a new outreach effort: a coffee bike. Coffee, tea and cocoa are served from this coffee-bar-on-wheels, the only one of its kind in Farmville. As they wait for their hot beverages, students hear perspectives on substance abuse, addiction-related issues and collegiate recovery.
Amidst the pandemic, the impacts on students’ mental health have been tremendous. Browning, Green, Steele and Walls-McKay believe their projects are more important than ever. Dr. Larissa Smith, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, agrees. “We are committed to providing holistic support for our students, and that includes exploring new and different ways to engage them in proactively managing their mental health and well-being.” As Dean of Well-Being, Walls-McKay is highly involved with each of the three projects, which demonstrates the importance of well-being at Longwood.
The funding for these projects comes from federal sources: the CAPS project from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Garrett Lee Smith Campus Suicide Prevention program, Longwood Recovers from a SAMHSA grant awarded to the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, and the Greenwood Library project from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
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