Mental health crises don’t follow bankers’ hours. To help students enrolled in on-campus housing access mental health resources outside the 9 to 5, the U created the Mental Health First Responders (MH1) program in partnership with Huntsman Mental Health Institute. It’s a mobile service staffed by master’s level mental health counselors who provide student-centered after-hours crisis response and prevention.
Critical funding for the MH1 pilot program was generously donated by the Huntsman Family Foundation. The MH1 pilot program has been operational for a year and is thriving. We sat down with MH1 program supervisor Torrence Wimbish MS’06 PhD’09 to learn more.
How is MH1 different from other crisis care services?
What sets the MH1 program apart is our team’s ability to be mobile. We have the necessary permissions to enter the campus residence halls to meet students where they are and provide personalized care. This is unique because usually an individual experiencing a crisis goes to a hospital or care center. Another unique and intentional feature is our nontraditional hours of operation.
What do you define as a “crisis?”
The individual defines what a crisis is. A crisis is anything that exceeds the student’s own ability to manage their emotions and cope with a situation. If a U student has feelings of being overwhelmed, can’t figure out what to do, can’t manage their emotions, or has thoughts of suicide, those are all times to call MH1 for support. Prevention is important.
Have you seen many students taking advantage of these services?
Yes. We call interactions with students “outreaches.” In the spring semester of 2021, we completed 27 outreaches. By fall 2021, we completed an additional 42 outreaches. These numbers are fantastic considering we had just started marketing the program to our residential community. That campaign will continue in the fall 2022 semester to increase awareness of these supportive services.