Cuesta College has been awarded a two-year $154,543 grant to pay for workshops, web-based training and resources to aid faculty and staff who serve students with mental health challenges.

The campus-based grant is through the California Community College Student Mental Health Program, a partnership between the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office and the Foundation for Community Colleges.

“This gives Cuesta an opportunity to be a front-runner in changing the culture of all colleges to better understand and serve this student population,” said Kelsey Kehoe, Cuesta’s wellness arts program coordinator. “This is groundbreaking work, and Cuesta is going to be trying out new ways of working with this population with the hopes that what we do will be recreated across the state at other colleges.”

Kehoe will oversee the project that will serve students in three main ways.

First, training will be provided about how to better serve and how to work with students who struggle with mental health challenges. Faculty and staff will be reminded to make sure all students feel accepted, listened to and aided.

“We never know what our students have dealt with or are currently dealing with,” Kehoe said. “So it is so important to treat them with respect, empathy and with the knowledge that they may need help in some way.” 

A second component involves Cuesta’s Student Incident Response Team, a collaboration between key staff members in Student Services, Counseling, the Health Center and Public Safety. The group will regularly meet, update policies and procedures, and review student incidents.

Finally, Cuesta will introduce Active Minds, a new student-run campus club, to increase awareness and reduce stigma around students dealing with mental health challenges. Active Minds is a national organization whose mission is to raise awareness about mental health on college campuses.

The club will help Kehoe facilitate two yearly events: Mental Health Awareness Week and a Suicide Prevention Week.

Twenty-three California community college campuses or consortia of campuses (representing a total of 30 campuses) received funding from $88,738 to $250,000 to address the mental health prevention and early intervention needs of their students, faculty and staff.

Jay Thompson | (805) 546-3100, ext. 2636 | Email: | Posted Nov. 8, 2012