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Centenary University to expand campus mental health offerings through community partnerships and professional development

The grant will support the wellbeing of the Centenary community and offer a broader scope of clinical support to the campus, including traditionally underserved populations, such as the LGBTQIA and BIPOC communities.

HACKETTSTOWN, NJ (Warren County) — Centenary University will expand its mental health support for students and the larger community through focused community partnerships and in-depth professional development opportunities.

The Office of the Secretary of Higher Education (OSHE) has awarded the University the Mental Health in Higher Education: Community Provider Partnerships and Professional Development Grant. The University will receive funding in two categories: $81,655 for the enhancement of mental health services for students by establishing community partnerships and $20,709 for professional development training for Centenary staff. These funds will be an integral part of supporting the wellbeing of the University’s students and community.

Kerry Mullins, vice president for student life and dean of students, said, “This grant will allow the University to better serve its students—particularly the most marginalized including LGBTQIA and gender non-conforming students, and students of color. With our diverse population at the heart of our work, Centenary is grateful for this opportunity to expand mental health resources for the campus community and offer professional support to our dedicated student services staff.”

The need for additional mental health resources has been growing for the past 10 years, with the COVID-19 pandemic further escalating the current mental health crisis. University surveys illustrate the increasing need for expanded services. By establishing community partnerships, the University will diversify mental health services and treatment options, including referrals to treatment that exceeds the scope of the Counseling Center.

The funding will also enable the University to:

  • Support a case manager
  • Increase access to psychiatric services
  • Ensure access to evidence-based treatments
  • Enhance support for underrepresented populations
  • Create space for wellness
  • Increase engagement in mental health support services

Further, these community partnerships will allow Centenary to offer LGBTQIA support groups and gender inclusivity training, psychoeducation and support for BIPOC student mental health, transportation to mental health services, access to evidence-based DBT and mindfulness therapies, and case management services.

“We are grateful that the State of New Jersey has prioritized mental health and wellbeing on college campuses through this grant funding,” said Mikolaya Nynka, director of the Centenary University Counseling Center. “On campuses across the nation, childhood emotional abuse and sexual violence are the most frequently reported traumatic events by counseling center clients. The professional development funded through this grant will provide our staff with the expertise to support a diverse student body and focus on addressing trauma, which continues to increase among college students.”

The professional development opportunities funded through the grant will be used to provide training for campus teams—particularly the Counseling Center and Student Affairs staff—who specifically work to address student mental health.

The University’s mental health professional development goals include:

  • Meeting the increasing mental health needs of a diverse student body
  • Providing Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy to clients experiencing post-traumatic reactions, particularly to those less likely to have the resources to otherwise access trauma-informed care
  • Addressing trauma and resilience by integrating culturally sensitive and responsive approaches to students

In addition to the Counseling Center staff’s training in EMDR, the Student Affairs staff will obtain certification in college student wellbeing, trauma, and resilience, a certification that specifically addresses systemic issues such as racism, homophobia, and transphobia. These two trauma-focused professional development initiatives support the University’s deep commitment to equity.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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