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Wyoming Higher Education Mental Health/Substance Abuse Summit March 3-4 at UW

February 26, 2009
Keynote speaker Sally Spencer-Thomas. (Regis University)

Understanding mental health and community issues surrounding suicide is the keynote speech topic for the second annual Wyoming Higher Education Mental Health and Substance Abuse summit March 3-4, at the University of Wyoming.

Sally Spencer-Thomas, leadership development director at Denver's Regis University, at 9 a.m. will discuss at the Hilton Garden Inn, "Be a Shining Light of Hope," an understanding of the mental health and community issues surrounding suicide. Registration cost is $50 per person or $40 if three or more persons from the same department or institution attend.

The summit is for the state's student affairs personnel, higher education administrators and mental health and substance abuse professionals. They will learn best practices for college-age student mental health promotion and suicide and alcohol abuse prevention. Conference participants will exchange knowledge, develop skills and strengthen the network of higher education professionals working in mental health and substance abuse prevention in Wyoming.

Spencer-Thomas, executive director of the Carson J. Spencer Foundation, is a licensed psychologist and student affairs administrator. She has seen students struggle with mental health issues and witnessed her younger brother, Carson, fighting his. He died by suicide in 2004.

"Every college campus must confront issues related to suicide at some point. Students will have friends who attempt or complete suicide, and their communities will deal with issues of fear, grief and recovering from tragedy," she says. Spencer-Thomas adds campus personnel should address not only suicide prevention, but also ways in which their community responds when a suicide or attempt occurs.

Other featured speakers are Dave Cozzens, UW associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, and Keith Hotle from the Wyoming Department of Health.

Concurrent sessions are scheduled, including information about programs such as Gatekeepers training, (a suicide prevention training program at UW); UW's AWARE (Alcohol Wellness Alternatives, Research and Education) Program; online community challenges; peer education; working with the media; and UW Care Teams, which works collaboratively on issues concerning students.

UW's Counseling Center, AWARE Program, Counselor Education, Division of Student Affairs, Dean of Students, Residence Life and Dining Services and Department of Athletics, and Wyoming Department of Health, The Network and Pathways sponsor the summit.

For more information, call the UW Counseling Center at (307) 766-2187.

Posted on Thursday, February 26, 2009

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