Mason CARES (Campus Awareness, Referral, and Education for Suicide Prevention) is a suicide prevention “gatekeeper” training developed by Counseling and Psychological Services in University Life. Since its inception in 2007, the Counseling and Psychological Services team has trained over 2,000 George Mason affiliates. Students are more likely to confide in a friend, peer, or professor when in crisis. The more people on campus who are aware of the warning signs of suicide, know how to broach the topic of suicide and begin a conversation, while being aware of where to refer a student in need, the greater the reach of GMU’s mental health safety net.
George Mason University was a recipient of the 2012 Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act 3-Year Grant, which provides federal funds for Universities across the country to carry out suicide prevention efforts and mental health focused outreach. GMU’s Mason CARES Team focuses on reaching out to students, faculty, and staff in a way that helps destigmatize mental health issues, while promoting healthy help-seeking behaviors. Some of the events we have hosted on campus include “Send Silence Packing” a traveling backpack display, “Chalk It Up!” a wellness focused sidewalk chalk fair, and “The S-Word,” an interdisciplinary panel that discussed the affect suicide has across disciplines other than counseling or psychology. Traditionally a 2-hour in-person training, the newly developed 1-hour version was created to help increase availability while aiming to consider the busy schedules of students, faculty, and staff.
written by Rachelle Thompson, Graduate Assistant
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)