As mental health on college campuses continues to be a top priority, six New York colleges and universities have partnered in a pilot experience, bringing an innovative program to higher education, with the goal of better supporting the well-being of their campus communities. Le Moyne College, Nazareth College, St. John Fisher University, Elmira College, SUNY Brockport, and the Northeast College of Health Sciences are all part of the initiative bringing the Consortium on Trauma, Illness, & Grief, or TIG, to their institutions.
While higher education supports students' mental health and wellness through individual counseling models, student engagement, and other initiatives, this is the first inter-institutional model that supports the mental health and wellness of students, faculty, and staff. The initiative, which launched in Spring 2022, is a partnership with the Upstate New York College Collaboration (UNYCC) and Coordinated Care Services, Inc., (CCSI), the organization that delivers the trauma response program to assist institutions in effectively responding to the challenges facing students and campuses more broadly.
Deb Salamone, senior consultant and lead facilitator at CCSI notes, “When a significant or traumatic event occurs, whether on campus or in the community, state, country, or world, we all experience its impact to some degree. Repercussions can have a long-lasting, negative effect on employees, students, and the larger campus community. Institutions of higher education can play a significant role in response and recovery from events. The ‘TIG in Higher Education’ model supports institutions’ growth in knowledge and skills for prevention, intervention, and recovery.”
The TIG curriculum has proven itself to be very successful in the K-12 setting. The shared purpose of the founding partners was to increase school personnel’s ability to support students and staff in times of individual or collective crisis. Now in its 21st year, TIG has only grown in its dedication to preparing staff and institutions to understand, intervene, and support students. TIG mitigates the risk for longer-term difficulties in achievement, engagement, relational, and wellness indicators.
In collaboration with campus leaders, this evidence-based curriculum has now been revised by the CCSI team to meet the specific needs of a collegiate population.
“Le Moyne’s involvement in the TIG initiative has already made a positive impact on our campus,” said Anne Kearney, LCSW-R, Le Moyne’s dean of student wellbeing. “We have built our capacity to respond to challenging events with a trauma informed lens. We have educated a diverse team of professionals from across campus to work proactively with our students with an empowerment and strength-based approach. This will help all of us address the various traumas that our students and our community have encountered.”
One major goal of the pilot experience includes the formation of a UNYCC working group that is trained in, and adopts, TIG’s strategy of sharing resources to benefit participating institutions beyond what could be achieved individually. Additionally, as a result of this pilot experience, these colleges and universities will have developed the capacity to diminish the impact of significant events in higher education environments.
“The work with TIG has deepened the collaboration within and across institutions as we problem-solve, share expertise, and expand the breadth of resources supporting students,” said Suronda Gonzalez, executive director of UNYCC. We all win as we build capacity. And, at the same time, we’ve developed a great partnership with CCSI, and we are continuing to learn from one another.”
About Upstate New York College Collaboration (UNYCC) - UNYCC is a diverse collection of Upstate New York institutions of higher learning – large and small, public, private and community colleges – who put the success of our students at the top of our priorities. UNYCC members collaborate in academic and student success programming, advancement, finance, as well as administrative infrastructure and services to make the educational experience more meaningful for students at all our campuses. Learn more about UNYCC at unycc.org
About Coordinated Care Services, Inc. (CCSI) - CCSI is a nonprofit management services organization with 30 years of experience dedicated to inspiring innovation in practice by providing essential business services in partnership with organizations that improve lives and strengthen communities. We work with local and state government, behavioral health care providers, provider networks, community-based organizations, criminal/juvenile justice entities, school/school districts, and other not for profits in the Rochester area and across Upstate New York. Learn more about CCSI at ccsi.org.