Siena was recently notified that it is the recipient of a sizeable federal grant for educational programming on suicide prevention.

The College has been awarded $300,000 over a three-year period from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The funds will be applied to Siena’s new Collegiate Behavioral Health Initiative Project HOPE, which stands for Promoting Health and Optimism for Prevention and Education.

“The name is very intentional,” said Kate Kaufman Burns, director of health promotion. “When we use the term ‘optimism,’ we are referring to a core Franciscan value of Siena that speaks to resilience and post-traumatic recovery and growth.” 

HOPE, which is being launched this fall, is aimed at increasing “help-seeking behavior” among students. The Office of Health Promotions will manage a campus-wide public health approach to education about suicide prevention that will help identify at-risk members of the campus community, increase protective factors that promote mental health, and reduce risk factors for suicide.

Kaufman Burns said the funding will allow the College to offer broad-spectrum training on mental health, and increase the outreach and dissemination of information about mental health training, resources and services. The SAMHSA funding will allow Siena to provide training, hire student help, bring in speakers, increase messaging and more. 

“This outreach will involve the entire campus,” she explained. “Students, faculty, staff, and administrators will all support this mission. Awareness, education and prevention form the bedrock of this effort. The entire community will have a role in helping to show students that they are not alone, and that despair is only temporary as long as there is hope.”