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President's Blog

Ensuring suicide prevention remains part of the mental health conversation

With our fall semester in full swing, we paused to acknowledge National Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15 to October 15, and National Suicide Prevention Week in September. Hispanic Heritage Month is a celebration that recognizes the contributions Hispanics and Latinas/os make to the U.S. while honoring their heritage and culture. The rich and vibrant Latina/o culture is known to be hardworking and loyal to community and family, from a mental health perspective, we know many are considered high-risk for depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among Latinas/os age 15 to 24, while only 1 in 11 Latinas/os seeks treatment. How can we better address this issue and raise awareness? One central way is by honoring The Chicago School’s mission to assure future clinicians and professionals are educated and trained to integrate culturally relevant theory and best practices in their delivery of mental health services.

In my recent Huffington Post blog, I further spoke about the issue of suicide by posing the question: What is Our Role as Educators and Parents in Suicide Prevention? With more than 20 million college students now back at school, nearly six million will be vulnerable to experiencing feelings of hopelessness and anxiety.

Here at The Chicago School, we work hard to ensure suicide prevention remains part of the mental health conversation. Last year, suicide prevention was the focus of our Naomi Ruth Cohen Institute Annual Community Health Conference, and we also have partnered with the Public Initiative for the Prevention of Suicide (PIPS), an organization in Northern Ireland that was formed by individuals who have experienced the devastation that accompanies the suicide of a family member.

Additionally, to further strengthen the training of students in our Los Angeles Clinical Doctoral Program (Psy.D.), we are now requiring that our students who are enrolled in practicum courses attend a 6.5 hour suicide prevention workshop called “Assessing and Managing Suicide Risk.”

I would like to hear your thoughts on the progress and path forward of improving minority mental health care in America. Tweet us at @TCSPPPrez or @gradpsychology.