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Nazareth University expands mental wellness programs with $300,000 federal grant

The Nazareth University Golden Eagle mascot, Swoop, celebrates the school rebranding from a college to a university.
David Andreatta
Nazareth University

Students and staff at Nazareth University will see an expansion of mental health outreach starting this fall.

The university received a $300,000 federal grant to launch a Mental Health Awareness Across Campus project.

“I think at the heart of what we're trying to do here is we're trying to be preventive so that a tragedy doesn't happen on campus,” said John Rigney, assistant director for wellness outreach and education.

The grant will go toward training faculty and staff to identify struggling students and help them before a crisis occurs. It will also be used to create a new position for a substance abuse and suicide prevention coordinator.

“Across the country we're noticing that mental health is more of an issue,” Rigney said. “And our leadership is supportive of us doing everything we can to help with mental health.”

Kim Harvey, dean of students, said many college students are going through a transitional phase in their lives, and that comes with its own stress on top of academic pressure and other obligations.

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“That can become overwhelming and can crush someone's mental health,” Harvey said. “And so ... we want to make sure that we have different points of outreach and different initiatives to be able to support students so that they can be their best version of themselves."

The grant will also fund a four-year program through the Jed Foundation to develop policies and strategies that build on the resources already available on campus.

Nazareth University is one of 22 institutions that received the three-year grant, which is issued by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Noelle E. C. Evans is WXXI's Murrow Award-winning Education reporter/producer.