Oct. 13, 2021 – Valparaiso, Indiana – The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has awarded a three-year, $247,273 grant to Valpo to support suicide prevention efforts on campus.

Through the grant, Valpo will have the resources to continue its “More-of-Us” Initiative, which aims to create a more connected and safer campus community focused on decreasing risk by collectively promoting life. The program was launched in 2018, thanks to a previously awarded SAMHSA grant. University leaders and several campus departments and programs have volunteered their time and expertise to help develop sustainable partnerships and expand the systemic structure for managing critical student incidents, mental health emergencies and suicide.

“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 of the Office of Alcohol and Drug Education and the Office of Sexual Assault Awareness and Facilitative Education in Counseling Services at Valpo. “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.”

The program serves the general student body and specifically focuses on populations that have been identified as at risk, including BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) students, students identifying as LGBTQIA+, student veterans and commuter students.

The More-of-Us Initiative has four primary goals:

  • Enhance mental health services for all college students; including those at risk for suicide, depression, serious mental health and/or substance use conditions that can lead to school failure.
  • Increase the capacity to prevent mental and substance use conditions among college students.
  • Promote help-seeking behavior and reduce negative public attitudes among students, faculty and staff at Valparaiso University.
  • Implement and continue evidence-based programs to improve the identification and treatment of at-risk college students so they can successfully complete their studies.

The More-of-Us Initiative brings together Valpo’s Counseling Services and other Student Life offices, Inclusion & Student Success Services (which includes Veterans Programs), Campus Ministry and the Department of Social Work. Through the grant, the program will provide mental health first aid trainings as well as outreach/workshop presentations about mental health/substance use services and suicide prevention for students, faculty, staff and local community members.