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VALPARAISO, Ind. — To support suicide prevention efforts on campus, Valparaiso University received a three-year, $247,273 grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Valparaiso will use the grant to continue their “More-of-Us” Initiative, with the goal of creating a safer, more connected campus community that focuses on decreasing suicide risk and promoting life. Since its development in 2018, university students and faculty volunteered to help develop partnerships and expand the systematic structure of managing critical student incidents, mental health emergencies and suicide.

The program serves the student body and specifically focuses on students that are identified as being at risk, including students of color, LGBT+ students, commuter students and student veterans. According to Valparaiso, the More-of-Us Initiative has four primary goals, which are as follows:

  • Enhance mental health services for all students, including those at risk for suicide, substance use that can lead to failing school and other mental health issues.
  • Increase capacity to prevent substance use conditions amongst students.
  • Promote help-seeking behavior and reduce public stigma amongst students and faculty.
  • Implement and continue evidence-based programs that improve the identification and treatment of at-risk students.

The More-of-Us Initiative uses teamwork from Valparaiso’s counseling services, student life offices, student success services, campus ministry and the Department of Social Work. The grant will be able to provide outreach workshops, presentations about mental health and substance use, mental health training and suicide prevention.

“This grant funding has allowed us to update and expand our services to the campus and surrounding communities through evidence-based practices and programs, and we are excited to continue this outreach,” said Natalie Muskin-Press, assistant director at Valparaiso’s counseling services, in a press release. “This new grant will allow us to continue to build up our mental health infrastructure on campus, work to continue to decrease stigma around mental health and raise awareness about effective suicide prevention. We are excited to continue to include all areas of campus and community life in our planning and activities over the next three years.”