The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) reports that 15% of students experience depression and other mental illnesses that put them at risk for suicide. About 10% of students each year report that they have seriously considered suicide.
Campus counseling center surveys suggest that only a small proportion of students most at risk for suicide seek campus mental health services. An alternative way to reach out to high risk students, particularly those who are less reluctant to initiate efforts to seek help at campus counseling centers, is by means of a proactive outreach tool.
Description Of RUOK? Buckeyes And Target Audience
RUOK? Buckeyes is the name given to the OSU roll out of AFSP’s Interactive Screening Program (ISP). Developed by the AFSP, it is an anonymous, web-based method of outreach to students that begins with a brief, confidential online Stress & Depression Questionnaire. It is both effective and proactive in identifying at-risk students and encouraging them to get help. According to the AFSP, ISP can be implemented in any higher educational setting. Although students are the target group, the program can also be adapted for use with medical residents, staff or faculty. By reaching out to those in need, ISP promotes student mental health, helps students remain in school and provides a safeguard for the institution in the event of a suicide death. Currently, through a grant made available through AFSP, the OSU Colleges of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine and the Graduate School are implementing RUOK? Buckeyes. In addition to the AFSP grant, the RUOK? Buckeyes roll out for OSU graduate students is support through collaborative funding by the Graduate School, Office of Student Life, and the Counseling and Consultation Services.
How RUOK? Buckeyes Works
- RUOK? Buckeyes is implemented through each university’s customized, secure website.
- Students receive an email invitation from a designated university official to participate in the screening.
- Participants receive a personalized written assessment by a university counselor and are invited to correspond with the counselor online to ask questions and discuss concerns about treatment anonymously.
- Those who are at-risk are invited to meet with the counselor in person for further evaluation and are transitioned to treatment services as needed.
According to the AFSP, the ISP is the only online screening program to have research data pointing to its effectiveness in identifying at-risk students and encouraging them into treatment. Evaluation data show the following:
- Students who engage in online communication with the counselor are three times more likely to come for an in-person consultation and three times more likely to enter treatment.
- 75% of students who entered treatment were described by counselors as not likely to have sought professional help without the ISP program.
- Students frequently report that knowing that the ISP counselor was there if things got really bad gave them an emotional lifeline through difficult periods.
For further information about how your department can implement RUOK? Buckeyes, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact (614) 688-5829.