Saddleback College provides addiction support groups

Cathy Lee Taylor

 

Students struggling with drug or alcohol addiction can now get help on campus by attending an addiction recovery support group and 12-step meeting based on the Alcoholics Anonymous program.
 
In the fall of 2012, President of Saddleback College Dr. Tod A. Burnett brought awareness to an ongoing need for drug and alcohol prevention in his college address.
 
In response, the Student Health Center collaborated with Health Sciences and the Human Services Division to create a multi-disciplinary committee comprised of physicians, clinical psychologists, behavioral health and nursing faculty, campus police, the Orange County Department of Health as well as students. 
 
This committee meets frequently to brainstorm ways to raise awareness about this problem as well as put prevention programs in place. 
 
As of April 15, 2013, two support groups became available to students; one for alcohol and the other for substance recovery support.
 
Meetings are based on Alcohol Anonymous principles, and the All Fellowship 12-step meeting happens every Monday from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. in BGS 135. The Addiction Recovery Support group meetings are held Monday from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in BGS 135. Meetings are facilitated by student and doctoral-level psychology interns.
 
More information on these programs can be found at: http://saddleback.edu/shc/drug-and-alcohol-prevention
 
Raising awareness for mental health issues
 
Raising awareness on campus about preventing the use of drug and alcohol, as well as the prevalence of mental health issues, is something the Saddleback Mental Health department also wants to focus on.
 
During the Health and Wellness Fair on April 10, 2013, a contest was held to have students create posters that portrayed creative ideas of how to say no to drugs, with the top three winners being awarded a Target gift certificate.
 
Several other measures are currently used to educate the campus population about the services of the Student Health Center including classroom outreach visits. 
 
Transfer student Caylin Vanoni is studying medical terminology at Saddleback and said she knew about the Student Health Services and “referred her sister there for an upper respiratory infection.” 
 
Regarding the health department offering mental health services, Vanoni said it was “one of those things I knew at the back of my mind somewhere,” but she hadn’t referred anyone.
 
A Crisis Intervention team comprised of members from General Counseling and the Student Health Center are available to students when they are experiencing an overwhelming situation. Caldwell says they have completed 121 crisis intervention visits just this year.
 
Among other outreach efforts, a faculty guide is distributed during one-hour, in-service group training sessions so faculty can identify and assist students with psychological, emotional and behavioral problems including those who are potentially violent or threatening.
 
An increase in mental health issues
 
According to Jeanne Harris-Caldwell, Director of Student Health Center reports there has been an increase in the “number of [mental health] incidences as well as severity on campus in the last 5 to 10 years.” No current numbers were immediately available.
 
Harris-Caldwell points out that the student population at Saddleback is comprised of a wide age range from 18 to 70 and that the types of assessments vary from eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia, to depression, bipolar and schizophrenia diagnoses.
 
According to Clinical Psychologist Dr. Lisa Schenitzki when students come to the health center the staff makes an “assessment” and determines the best course of action for each individual such as medical referrals, prescriptions, and a “safe plan” so each student knows what to do if they find themselves in crisis after school hours.
 
In more difficult scenarios, these health professionals can also do a 5150 hold which is an involuntary hold for someone who is “gravely disabled,” Schenitzki said. These students are either unable to care for themselves or show signs of wanting to hurt themselves or someone else.
 
Schenitzki is also the clinical supervisor for the Saddleback doctoral intern program which mentors seven doctoral-level students who are one to two years away from graduation. These interns often provide help to students who are experiencing psychotherapy for the first time.
 
Jennie McCue, Director Marketing/Communications, stated in an August 2012 press release that the mental health services department sees an average of 40-100 students per day which is also a current average.
 
According to Harris-Caldwell, “Saddleback College strives to have one of the best health centers for our students.” 
 
Because of a statewide grant, members of the Crisis Intervention Team through General Counseling implemented  an online training program called Kognito that has three modules: 1) for faculty to help students 2) for students to help other students (peer-to-peer), and 3) for veterans.
 
This program “engages users in conversations with emotionally responsive student avatars that exhibit signs of psychological distress,” according to the Kognito website. 
 
During the process, users practice using open-ended questions and other techniques such as reflective listening to learn how to broach psychological distress and motivate the student to seek help, according to Kognito.
 
As of March 2014, 65 students, 23 faculty and 7 veterans from Saddleback College have completed this program, according to Harris-Caldwell.
 
Links
Link for Kognito training
http://www.kognitocampus.com/student
American College Health Association
http://www.acha.org/Topics/mentalhlth.cfm
The Higher Education Mental Health Alliance
http://www.hemha.org
Signs of Distress
http://www.saddleback.edu/shc/signs-distress
Identifying Students that need assistance
http://www.saddleback.edu/shc/identifying-students-who-need-assistance

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