Oakland University
Friday, May 16, 2014

Summer course focuses on crisis intervention, prevention of self-harm

Photo by Michael MacDonald, Ph.D.


EST 541 - Crisis Intervention and the Prevention of Self Harm - 31083

The course is cross-listed with Counseling (CNS) 431 and Wellness and Health Promotion (WHP) 431.

Where: 312 Pawley Hall
When: Summer II semester, June 30 - Aug. 20, 2014
Thursdays 1-4:20 p.m. 

For more information: Contact Dr. MacDonald at (248) 370-2629 or mmacdona@oakland.edu.

This summer, Oakland University will be offering a course to help caregivers develop the knowledge and skills to understand the public health approach to crisis intervention and the prevention of self-harm. The course develops caregiver competencies such as recognizing warning signs of suicidal behavior and referring at-risk individuals to professional mental health services.

Course instructor Michael MacDonald, Ph.D., says the class is especially relevant as mental health issues become more prevalent among college students and other at-risk populations.

“The issue of self-harm behavior has become more pressing on college campuses and is particularly important for individuals in the helping professions,” said Dr. MacDonald, associate professor of education.

“There is a greater awareness about the mental health needs of college students and many factors that can put individuals at risk for self-harm.”

The class, Educational Studies (EST) 541 – Crisis Intervention and the Prevention of Self Harm, is cross-listed to serve students in education, social work, counseling and health sciences majors, and is open to all students interested in learning how to recognize signs of distress and take appropriate action.

A community effort
The course is one aspect of an ongoing, community-focused effort to prevent suicide and self-harm on Oakland’s campus and beyond.  The university’s GRASP project, which stands for Grizzlies Response: Awareness and Suicide Prevention, was launched in 2012 with support from a $612,000 grant to heighten suicide awareness and prevention both on campus and in the surrounding community.

The three-year Garrett Lee Smith Suicide Prevention grant, awarded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is being used to train faculty, staff and students to effectively address mental health, build community relationships, and educate and provide resources to the OU community.

“Suicide and suicidal behavior represent significant public health concerns that are preventable through community-wide initiatives that provide hope and build connections,” Dr. MacDonald said. “GRASP was formed to respond to this need through the support of both Academic and Student Affairs.”  

Dr. MacDonald is the grant’s principal investigator and is joined by OU faculty members Dalton Connally, assistant professor of social work; Lisa Hawley, associate professor and chair in the Department of Counseling; and Patricia Wren, associate professor and program director in the Health Sciences program.

GRASP leaders have worked to advance the project’s goals. A Faculty Learning Community brought together key university staff and administrators to refine and create campus crisis response protocols, develop accompanying educational materials for faculty and staff, and start dialogue within University Human Resources to evaluate the current Employee Assistance Program benefits. Last fall, GRASP started offering “gatekeeper” training to help the campus community identify and assist those at-risk of self-harm.

In addition, the first Assessing and Managing Suicide Risk (AMSR) training took place in April 2013 with 34 participants from GRASP, a website was launched and local crisis centers, area hospitals and community groups have expressed interest in partnering with GRASP to address mental health awareness within the surrounding communities.

For additional information on GRASP, call (248) 370-4377 or visit the GRASP website at oakland.edu/grasp.

The class is especially relevant as mental health issues become more prevalent among college students and other at-risk populations.

Created by Colleen Campbell (cjcampbell@oakland.edu) on Friday, May 16, 2014
Modified by Colleen Campbell (cjcampbell@oakland.edu) on Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Article Start Date: Friday, May 16, 2014