How Rowan Reduces Mental Health Stigma [Video]

Ru a Lifesaver Flyer

While on many campuses across the country mental health is still a taboo subject, that is not the case with Rowan University. Allison Pearce, assistant director of Healthy Campus Initiatives, recognized the importance of reducing mental health stigma on our campus and decided to take an action.

In 2013, she wrote to the Substances Abuse and Managing Health Services Administration applying for a grant. As a result of Allison’s dedication, Rowan received a grant that helped create a suicide prevention program called “RU a Lifesaver?”

RU a Lifesaver Flyer in the Library“We created a brand to reduce stigma of seeking mental services and increasing health-seeking behavior,” explains Allison about the program. One of the main aspects of “RU a Lifesaver” is to encourage people to ask for help, if they think something is not right with their friends or family members.

“You’re going to know that something is going on with your best friend before we are, because you see them every day,” says Allison. “RU a Lifesaver” educates us to be proactive and responsive when we see that others might be suffering mental distress.  

Another important aspect of the program is self-care. “In life, if a lifeguard goes down so does everybody else,” comments Allison, who has been a lifeguard half of her life. The idea behind the program is how you can take care of your health and how you can ask for help if something is wrong.

How can you report something?

  • Call a 24/7 counselor on call available at 856-256-4911;
  • Stop by the Wellness Center during regular business hours.  
Kyle Grunta works at the Wellness Center Office
Kyle is the first person to help you when you enter the Wellness Center

Because of the uniqueness of “RU a Lifesaver” project, Rowan had a chance to share the program’s findings and progress locally, nationally and even internationally. Many faculty, staff and students have been trained and branded on “RU a Lifesaver” program to encourage healthy mental state.

In addition, as a part of the grant, Rowan counselors have received training in a dialectical behavioral therapy that works really well for patients who are considered suicidal.

“How much attention we pay to the safety and wellness of our students is tremendous,” adds Scott Woodside, director of Student Health Services. “24/7 when classes are in session, both semesters, we have a counselor who is on call. Same thing for medical: 24/7 EMS is available. It’s very important to know, and it’s something that parents are concerned about.”

“RU a Lifesaver” is one of the many programs coordinated by the Wellness Center, that encourage a social change that can prevent many unfortunate accidents and save lives. The Rowan Wellness Center provides plenty of programs to support not only your mental health, but also physical health. Below is a short video, starring Allison, that talks about many services the Wellness Center offers.

Do you think it is important to talk about suicide prevention on campuses? Please, share your thoughts below.

Story organized by:
Natalia Panfilova,
senior public relations student

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