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Cougar Health Services Cougar Health Services News

New mental health promotion specialist

Earlier this month, we hired a new mental health promotion and suicide prevention specialist, Nikita Alimohammad. Nikita previously worked on our team as a health educator, and will now lead suicide prevention efforts on campus, including coordination for our grant work. This includes SAMHSA’s Garrett Lee Smith Grant and the JED Foundation campus program.

We created the specialist role two years ago as part of WSU’s focus on mental health and suicide prevention. The position was vacant for the majority of the 2017-2018 school year, and filling the role will help us build on previous success in promoting mental health on campus.

In her new role, Nikita will collaborate with campus partners on our community-based approach to mental health promotion. She will analyze collected data and feedback to identify high-risk student populations and improve health promotion student outreach trainings.  One of her first projects will be coordinating the Healthy Minds study, an online survey conducted every year to collect information on student mental health.

Nikita earned her bachelor’s degree in health sciences with a focus in administration and management from California State University, East Bay. She then went on to earn her master’s degree in public health at San Diego State University.

In her previous role as a health educator, Nikita led Mental Health First Aid trainings and supported our IMPACT program and student reinstatement and enrichment workshops.

New name, fully integrated health services

We’re excited to announce Health & Wellness Services and Counseling and Psychological Services have officially integrated under the name Cougar Health Services.

This change reflects our model of student-centered, integrated health services on campus, as well as our staff’s hard work over many years to improve collaboration, streamline processes, and ultimately provide better health and well-being services for students.

As part of this process, we’re merging our electronic health records over the summer. Maintaining one central record for each student will help us provide seamless care across all of our services. We can welcome each student with a full understanding of their health history and the care they’ve already received from us, regardless of which service they used first.

Updated Cougar Health Services materials are available upon request for WSU departments and groups.

Meet our new medical director

Dr. Bonnie de Vries

Our new medical director, Bonnie de Vries, MD, MS, begins work this week. In this role, Dr. de Vries will oversee medical clinic operations and collaborate with partners in Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, and throughout WSU to support student health and safety. Dr. de Vries will take on both administrative and clinical responsibilities, opening up additional physician availability for patient appointments.

We invite the WSU community to join us as Dr. de Vries shares her vision for the future of university health services on April 9 from 4-5 p.m. The event will take place in the Health Promotion Peer Education Training Room G41, located in the ground floor entrance of the Washington building. Please RSVP to Melissa Painter at melissa.norton@wsu.edu.

Dr. de Vries is a board-certified family physician with a background in quality improvement and practice transformation. Dr. de Vries earned her medical degree from Albany Medical College, and completed her residency at Maine Medical Center, where she also studied integrative medicine.

In addition, she earned a Master of Science degree in nutrition from Columbia University, during which she did clinical HIV research at Harlem Hospital.

Most recently, Dr. de Vries practiced at Southern Maine Health Care, where she successfully led an innovative Advanced Primary Care initiative to create a culture of team-based care, population health, and physician retention.

She also served as the only family physician on the Medical Executive Committee; and completed professional certification through the Hanley Center’s Physician Executive Leadership Institute.

Dr. de Vries was also an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of New England (UNE) College of Osteopathic Medicine, teaching case analysis and team-based learning to future physicians.

Get your mental wellness checkup

student hands typing on keyboard
student hands typing on a computer keyboard

Mental health is a key part of your overall health and well-being. You can use a brief online screening to check in on your mental wellness and see if you should connect with a mental health professional.

Get an online mental wellness checkup today!

It’s free and completely confidential. Immediately following the brief questionnaire, you will see your results, recommendations, and information on university and community support resources.

Need help right now? Counseling and Psychological Services is available 24/7 at 509-335-4511.

1,797 Cougs get their flu shot!

A record breaking 1,797 Cougs got their flu vaccine at our flu shot events this fall!

A flu shot is the number one way to prevent the flu. If you haven’t already gotten your vaccine, now is a great time to get it. Students can visit our medical clinic to get their shot.

When more Cougs get vaccinated, less flu can spread in our community. Don’t forget there are other healthy habits that can help protect you from the flu virus.

We hope you have a happy, healthy, and flu-free winter!

Toolkit for supporting students in distress

Toolkit for supporting students in distress

Student Affairs is currently developing a toolkit that faculty and staff can use to help students who are in distress. The goal of the toolkit is to ensure students have a successful academic career by getting them connected to campus resources that will support their specific needs.

Faculty and staff play a key role in the lives of students. They work closely with them and are often able to notice when a student is having a hard time.

With the help of the toolkit, faculty and staff will be able to recognize potential signs of distress, respond in the moment, and connect the student to appropriate campus resources.

The guide will cover a wide range of concerns. For example, if a student experiences the loss of a family member, financial issues, violence, or a mental health concern, the guide will offer steps for helping the student and connecting them to specific campus resources.

To develop this guide, we reviewed similar toolkits from other universities and sought feedback from WSU faculty, advisors, deans, administrators, and staff. Our team decided to adapt a guide created by UMatter at UMass and tailor it to the specific needs of our community.

The toolkit will be available this fall in an online format. If you want to know when it’s live, you can subscribe to receive email updates about suicide prevention and mental health promotion.

Accomplishments during grant’s first year

Accomplishments during grant’s first year

We recently met with members of the Campus Mental Health Collaborative to discuss ongoing suicide prevention and mental health promotion efforts.

During our meeting, we talked about goals for the SAMSHA Garrett Lee Smith Suicide Prevention Grant and what we’ve done so far.

SAMSHA grant goals

Promote mental health through campus-wide partnerships. Together, collaborative members are actively looking for ways to support each other’s mental health promotion efforts. For example, during our meeting, departments brainstormed the idea of adding a mental health component to their staff and student trainings.

Offer suicide prevention training. Last year we began offering suicide prevention training, Campus Connect. Over 430 Cougs have taken this training and we expanded it to an online format.

In addition to education on best practices for responding to someone in crisis, Campus Connect teaches essential communication and relationship building skills. Departments like Athletics and Residence Life find this training so valuable, they require their employees to take it.

Collect and evaluate data to refine our mental health promotion activities. We want all Cougs to get more information about suicide prevention and to get help if they experience a mental health concern. To measure our progress towards these goals, we use data from the National College Health Assessment and quarterly grant reports. This data will also help us understand how we can support students’ changing mental health needs.

Expand and improve programs for students. This past spring, we launched a stress management texting program which sends students tips for managing their stress – over 680 Cougs have signed up! Currently, we’re expanding this program for student-athletes, and we hope to offer it to more groups on campus.

Moving forward, we plan to adapt content from a research-based stress management workshop. We also are looking for faculty collaborators to evaluate the texting program.

Inform Cougs about support services and decrease stigma around mental health. We’re working with a team of students in the Murrow College of Communication on a campaign to promote a mental health screening tool and educate students about resources and suicide risk factors.

For the remainder of our meeting, collaborative members gave updates on their current mental health promotion activities and we brainstormed ways to use existing resources to expand our efforts. The meeting concluded with feedback on a guide for responding to students in crisis, which is currently in development.

We look forward to building relationships with collaborative members and supporting each other’s work. If you would like to learn more about the collaborative and stay up-to-date on mental health promotion and suicide prevention, you can subscribe to receive email updates.

Who did you get your flu shot for?

Who did you get your flu shot for?

Do you want to help your friends, family, roommates and co-workers stay healthy? A flu shot not only helps prevent you from getting the flu, it also protects everyone in the community.

When you get a flu shot, you protect those you live with. You also help protect:

  • People who live in close quarters such as residence halls
  • Those with chronic illnesses and pregnant women who are at high-risk for flu related complications
  • Individuals who have a weakened immune system
  • People who are unable to get a vaccine, for example, people with allergies to the vaccine or any ingredient in it
  • Babies younger than 6 months of age who are too young to get a flu vaccine
  • Elderly people who are at a greater risk for getting ill from the flu

Cougs help Cougs stay well — and that means getting a flu vaccine.

Health & Wellness Services is giving flu shots every Friday from September 29 – October 27 between 10 am – 3 pm, in the Washington Building, room G41. Bring your insurance card.

Campus-wide support for mental health

Campus-wide support for mental health

This week, the Campus Mental Health Collaborative will meet to discuss ongoing suicide prevention and mental health promotion efforts.

The collaborative launched last fall as part of Health & Wellness Services’ involvement in the SAMHSA Garrett Lee Smith Campus Suicide Prevention Grant and the JED Foundation campus program.

Currently, we’re streamlining campus crisis protocols to ensure students in distress get the support they need. Members are also in the process of implementing suggestions from the JED Foundation. For example, Health & Wellness Services and Counseling and Psychological Services are working to better integrate medical systems and expand the number of suicide prevention and mental health training opportunities.

At the upcoming meeting, we plan to review a guide for helping faculty and staff respond to a student in distress. Members will also give updates on their priority projects for mental health and discuss options for expanding access to trainings on other WSU campuses. We’ll continue to look for ways we can support each other’s efforts.

The meeting will take place on October 5, 2017 at 10:00 am in Lighty 405. All are welcome to attend.

To stay updated with mental health promotion and news about the collaborative efforts, make sure you subscribe to our mailing list.

Sale on Nike glasses and sunglasses

Sale on Nike glasses and sunglasses

Join our vision clinic for a special Nike eyewear sale event just for WSU students.

Nike eyewear sale event
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
10:00 am – 3:00 pm
CUB

Get a 25 percent discount on glasses and sunglasses, and enter to win a free pair of frames! We’ll have over 200 styles of Nike eyewear available to try on and purchase.

For any questions about the sale or our vision care services, contact our vision clinic.