In 2010 Idaho had the sixth highest suicide rate in the nation, 49 percent higher than the national average according to the Idaho Suicide Prevention Action Network (SPAN Idaho), additionally ISPAN Idaho reports suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for adolescents and young adults in Idaho.
The Health and Wellness Center provides access to counseling and supplements support and triage to those who are immediately considering suicide, but the councelling center is lacking in adequate resources, according to Health and Recreation Services Director Libby Greaney.
Attempts to improve mental health services have been met with some resistance by Boise State officials, Greaney said. The counseling center employs a pyschiatrist to work with students in need, but some say it’s not enough.
“We also need support from the administration to get what we need,” Greaney said. “First of all, we’ve got a psychiatrist position that we created a year ago that we have been wanting to fill. We did all of the research and it is on hold and we are not quite sure why.”
Greaney plans to add staff with experience treating drug addiction, but needs financial and administrative support.
Peter Wollheim, retired Boise State communication professor and creator of SPAN Idaho feels Boise State is lacking in mental health resources.
“I would say mental health is not one of (Boise State’s) priorities,” Wollheim said.
Wolheim went on to say the Counseling Center is understaffed and cannot meet the needs of those seeking help.
“The university has chosen to, and I’m going to say that, has really chosen to under resource the mental health services on campus,” Wolheim said.
Director of Counseling Services, Karla West, agrees the counseling center may be understaffed under certain accreditation standards, but does not agree completely that Boise State considers student mental health a low priority.
“With the resources that we have, I believe we have staff that are qualified to respond to the needs of our students on campus,” West said. “I think we are in a much better position than in the past to help students.”
“We also know that we want someone with substance abuse specialty training,” Greaney said.
Though the Counseling Center offers support to students, Greaney and West would like to see Boise State officials support hiring more staff at the Counseling Center.
“I think that Boise State does need to make it a priority to have resources, the appropriate resources, on campus to address our student wide populations mental health needs,” West said.
The Boise State Health Services website allows access to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, and can direct students to necessary medical and psychiatric facilities off campus should the Health Center be closed or unable to meet the needs of the individual seeking help.
Resources like the Idaho Suicide Prevention Action Network also allow those who have experienced suicide and the loss associated to become active in community efforts and programs to limit suicide deaths.
Students enrolled in SHIP are covered in full for Counseling Center visits.
Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
National Hopeline Network: 1-800-784-2433
The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386
Youth America Hotline: 1-877-968-8454