Round-the-Clock Counseling Services Available at NDSU
Fargo-based nonprofit to provide support at nine campuses
Published: Thursday, February 6, 2014
Updated: Thursday, February 6, 2014 09:02
Students who need help from the university’s Counseling Center don’t have to wait until it’s open to talk to someone.
The North Dakota University System recently received a $282,520 boost for mental health services. A portion of that will be used to implement after-hours crisis intervention and emergency services at nine campuses. The system is looking to utilize a nonprofit that NDSU and UND already use to ensure students have access to counseling services 24/7.
Both universities are partnered with Fargo-based nonprofit, FirstLink, which prevents any call from going unanswered.
NDSU and FirstLink have been working together for more than 15 years, said Marlys Borkhuis, assistant director of the NDSU Counseling Center.
“The Mental Health Task Force, which is comprised of a representative from each of the eleven campuses, are currently working with FirstLink to see if this same set of services is something that FirstLink would be able to accommodate for all eleven campuses,” said Becky Lamboley, the NDUS director of student affairs.
If a student calls the Counseling Center after hours, his or her call will forward to FirstLink, which can assist a student in a variety of ways. If the student needs someone to talk to about a problem they are having or even if they are contemplating suicide, FirstLink is able to provide them assistance, Lamboley said.
“Crises don’t always happen 8 to 5, so it is important to provide a means for obtaining help after hours,” Borkhuis said.
FirstLink also answers calls made to the North Dakota’s 211 helpline and suicide lifeline. They also serve a small portion of Minnesota.
Lamboley told the State Board of Higher Education during their Jan. 30 meeting that the Mental Health Task Force is looking into utilizing FirstLink at each of the remaining nine campuses. She said they are talking with FirstLink to figure out costs for the system-wide implementation.
If FirstLink is unable to provide similar services to every campus, the task force would look for similar agencies, but Lamboley said she doesn’t anticipate that being the case.
“NDUS as well as the Mental Health Task Force are excited to implement this service as soon as we are able,” Lamboley said.
The implementation of the after-hours crisis intervention service is one of four major projects the task force is working on.
NDSU and UND also have psychiatric support services, behavioral intervention teams and mental health first aid-trained staff, but the university system is looking at implementing those services at its other nine campuses as well.
The task force also recommended expanding psychiatric support services at its two largest campuses.
Lamboley told the SBHE that the task force was looking into ways for psychiatric support services to be made available by telecommunication for its smaller campuses.
She said in many of their college communities, there aren’t adequate mental health support services for students on campus or off.
The system plans to train behavior intervention teams at each school by the end of spring. Those teams will monitor student behavior and intervene when necessary to prevent incidents or crises.