Joliet, Ill. – Providing mental health resources that meet the needs of students is an important area of focus institutions at all levels of education. The University of St. Francis (USF) is pleased to announce that its efforts to provide mental health resources to its students will be enhanced thanks a three-year matching grant through the Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

“We were aware that our students, having navigated the challenges presented by COVID-19 for the past two years, were in great need of support. Many students come to campus with lack of awareness about the things they can be doing day to day that have a great impact on their mental health. This grant will greatly help us to raise their awareness and take positive steps forward” said Mollie Rockafellow, Ed.D., dean of student life at USF and grant project director.

The two primary goals to be addressed through the matching grant include increasing the university’s capacity to identify at-risk students and improve mental health services for all college students, including those at risk for suicide, depression, or serious mental illness (SMI)/serious emotional disturbances (SED), and to prevent and reduce suicide and mental and substance use disorders by increasing awareness of resources and creating a campus culture surrounding mental health that is culturally competent and promotes help-seeking behavior.

Efforts funded through the grant began earlier this fall and have enhanced the university’s partnership with Advocate Aurora Health.

“Advocate Aurora Health offers amazing counseling support for our students, both in-person on our campus and in virtual formats. We believe this grant will help increase overall mental health while also building a safety net for when students need additional support in working through mental health challenges,” Rockafellow added.

Ultimately, Rockafellow is grateful for the positive impact that the matching grant will have on USF’s campus community.

“The grant committee is very appreciative that this grant will support our work with our campus community. We know that this grant will allow us to have a positive impact on our USF students teaching them skills that they will be able to carry with them their entire lives. We have an amazing population of students who have varying levels of history working toward a positive mental health experience. Creating spaces and engaging with students on this topic will greatly impact their success as they graduate and contribute to the world through service and leadership,” Rockafellow said.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 53,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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