Colleges receive mental health grant

Coast Community College District's Costa Mesa and Huntington Beach campuses were awarded a $250,000 mental health grant to help identify and counsel struggling students.

Orange Coast College, in partnership with Golden West College, was given the highest grant amount from the Foundation for California Community Colleges' California Mental Health Services Act funds. OCC will administer the money to be used to benefit both campuses over the next two years, said Sylvia Worden, associate dean of Student Health Services.

"What happens now is often for our staff members, mental illness is the very last possibility they think of when they're having an interaction with a student ... Hopefully we'll move forward more pro actively," Worden said.

College is the time when some mental illnesses, like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and obsessive compulsive disorder, begin, Worden said.

The grant allows the colleges to provide training for peer-to-peer support ,and classes for faculty and staff. Faculty already, especially in the English department, where students are writing, refer students to mental health services, but the training will help all faculty and staff better read the signs of mental illness and persuade students to seek help, Worden said.

The third component is training for a campus behavioral assessment team to identify students who may want to harm themselves or others, like the mass shooting in Aurora, Colo., Worden said.

"There's a real trend nowadays for campuses to have threat assessment," she said.

The colleges will implement the training through three state-bought online training modules as well as in-person training.

"It's really satisfying to me to be able to get this going," she said. "I think it's really going to make a difference."

Twitter: @britneyjbarnes

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