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UW Wellness Center Receives Grant to Promote Mental Health Awareness

September 22, 2021

The University of Wyoming’s Half Acre Recreation and Wellness Center has received a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration grant to provide mental health awareness training on campus.

The five-year grant will provide the UW Wellness Center with $125,000 per year to support mental health first aid (MHFA) training at UW and in the Laramie community. The focus of the $625,000 grant is to provide mental health awareness and de-escalation training and establish connections with mental health organizations for referrals for appropriate services.

UW is among 145 recipients of the grant nationwide and is the only recipient in Wyoming.

“Our campus and community have been through a lot of challenges that impact mental health, particularly over the past year and a half,” says Lena Newlin, Half Acre Recreation and Wellness Center assistant director. “This funding will provide important training to support the mental health of students, professionals and caregivers who interact with UW students. We are grateful to receive this highly competitive grant, and we are confident that UW and the Laramie community will benefit greatly from these resources.”

According to UW’s 2019 National College Health Assessment, there is a critical need to better address UW student mental health.

The eight-hour training will be offered to UW campus emergency first responders; UW law enforcement; faculty; Student Affairs professionals; parents of UW students; student-athletes; student veterans; residence hall assistants; fraternity and sorority members; student government leaders; and peer educators. MHFA training also will be offered to some Laramie community members who interact with UW students off campus, such as emergency first responders, law enforcement and social service providers.

“Specifically, we will train campus and community members in the evidence-based MHFA program,” Newlin says. “We expect to train 475 people in MHFA during the five-year grant period, and we plan to coordinate referrals to mental health services through the University Counseling Center.”

The grant will support the hiring of a project coordinator/lead MHFA trainer and two part-time employees; MHFA instructor and participant training; educational supplies; a social marketing campaign; and program evaluation by UW’s Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has awarded $17.8 million in grants nationwide to help communities increase mental health awareness and referrals for services. UW’s proposal for the grant established goals of increasing awareness and skills to respond to those with a spectrum of mental disorders; establishing a network of providers for referrals; and decreasing the stigma of seeking mental health services.  

More information about the project implementation will be released in the coming months, Newlin says.

For more information about the grant, call Newlin at (307) 766-3418 or email

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